Student sculptors destroy their art then exhibit the remains

You could call it the anti-sculpture show. Twelve York fine arts students and graduates decided to pulverize sculptures they had made in class and present the deconstruction as a formal show at a downtown gallery.

Walk through the door into the Board of Directors Gallery on Queen Street West and you will have to step carefully over 12 rows of dust and rubble representing the remains of each sculpture.

Right: Candice Davies studies the rubble from a broken pedestal and the charred remains of an architectural model

The exhibition is called Parting. It officially opens with a reception Friday from 7 to 10pm at the gallery and continues to July 25.

Its creators – or, in this case, destroyers – aim to challenge the notion of art as static, untouchable, admire-from-afar, immortal objects, suggests Maggie Flynn, an upper-level York undergraduate and one of the 12 participants.

Or, as they explain in an artists’ statement:

“In physically deconstructing these works, the artists of Parting begin a process of theoretical deconstruction. Meaning, what was once intrinsic to each artwork is now gone, lost without the language of the artist’s form. The initial form of the artwork exists now only in memory: of the artist and of the materials. However, a new form is created which is fluid and changing. Viewers are confronted with the materiality of the artwork. This art can no longer claim autonomy from the rest of the material world. The reverberations of its continued existence as matter cannot be ignored. The particles that remain are kicked up and around the gallery, up our nostrils, out the door. Gallery visitors perform a process of cross-pollination among the works. Materials and meanings converge and collide.”

You might see a ridge of grey porridge; Flynn tore up three books she had used in an installation and made the mash by mixing the paper with water in a blender. Or gum stretched as thin as a thread; Simon Black pulled apart his sculpture of a brain made from bubblegum.

Left: Robert Clements stretches Simon Black’s gum brain

Wispy curls of burnt paper, remains of a paper architectural model. Tiny pearls of wax, remains of a large abstract wax sculpture. Often, pieces of rubble reveal what the original sculpture was.

The artists hope the fact that an art gallery, which deals in art, has agreed to put on this exhibit will make viewers ponder what is considered art. “We are referencing the nature of art,” says Flynn.

The artists are undergraduates Simon Black, Kailey Bryan, Robert Clements, Maggie Flynn, Jeannette Hicks, Phoebe Lo, Meiko Maruyama, Meghan Scott and Tasha Turner, and alumni Candice Davies (BFA Spec. Hons. ’08), Alex Mainella (BFA Spec. Hons. ’08) and Maxine Wong (BSc & BEd ’09).

The Board of Directors Gallery is located at 1080 Queen St. W.