Inventive Canadian sculptor Maskull Lasserre and 16 of York’s undergraduate visual arts students have been covered in sawdust since May 2, when they began an Intensive Sculpture Workshop.
Lasserre is the 2016 Louis Odette Sculptor-in-Residence at York University during the first two weeks of May, which runs in conjunction with the Intensive Sculpture Workshop, a fourth-year course offered by the Department of Visual Art & Art History.
Lasserre will discuss his process and his work on May 11, when he gives a public talk from 2 to 3:30pm in Room 130 of the Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.
During the Intensive Sculpture Workshop, Lasserre and the students used ash logs removed from York’s Keele campus after infestation by the emerald ash borer to explore a wide variety of carving techniques in the School of the Arts, Media Performance and Design’s (AMPD) state-of-the-art sculpture studio.
“It’s such a privilege to work in these amazing facilities,” said Laserre. “The students are exceptionally motivated, helpful and enthusiastic, and the faculty and technicians are an amazing resource of knowledge and experience. This is one of those special situations where everyone gets to learn from each other.”
Paolina Crump, who is going into her fifth year of a visual art and art history degree with a concurrent Bachelor of education, is thrilled to be participating in the course.
“My grandfather made me wooden toys growing up and he taught me some carving too, so I’ve had a long-standing interest in wood sculpture – but this is my first course in the wood shop,” said Crump.
Her ambitious project explores the idea of memory: she is carving a brain, and each of the four lobes will hold a drawer. When the piece is installed, there will be information about brain function, and people will be encouraged to write letters to leave inside the drawers.
“This is my first sculpture that has an interactive element, and I’m also really excited to incorporate an educational aspect too,” she said. “I hope it will raise awareness about how important our brains are and about brain health.”
Fifth-year communications studies and education student Chris Grande was invited to the course by instructor Zeke Moores, who taught him stone carving last year and is leading the Intensive Sculpture Workshop.
“While I don’t have a fine arts background, I’ve found these two classes have really freed up my creativity,” said Grande. “The ability to move into a different sort of classroom really opens up your mind.
“Having this level of exposure and access to an internationally renowned artist is such an amazing opportunity. I thought an artist with that level of success would be intimidating, but Maskull is so approachable. I’ve prepared some mock-ups for him for his work and I feel like he has taught me a new philosophy and approach to sculpture and wood.”
Lasserre’s drawings and sculptures explore the unexpected potential of the everyday through allegories of value, expectation and utility. He incorporates elements of nostalgia, accident, humor and the macabre into his works, inducing strangeness in the familiar and provoking uncertainty in the expected.
He is represented in the collections of the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal and the Government of Canada, among others. He has exhibited across Canada, in the U.S. and Europe, including at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and the Grassi Museum in Leipzig, Germany. Recent residencies include the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. and the California College of Art, San Francisco, Ca.
Lasserre was among an international group of artists invited by the British street artist and political activist Banksy to contribute to his 2015 dystopian theme park project, Dismaland. He was also a recent participant in the Canadian Forces War Artist Program in Afghanistan.
About the Louis Odette Sculptor-in-Residence Program
The Louis Odette Sculptor-in-Residence Program was established in York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design in 2000. This annual residency brings leading sculptors to campus to create work and mentor and empower emerging artists. The residency fosters a dynamic learning environment that supports the advancement of the art of sculpture, and gives undergraduate visual arts students the opportunity to extend their creative practice by observing and working hands-on in a wide range of professional sculpture techniques and media alongside eminent visiting artists. The public is invited to share in the experience each year through a free public lecture given by the sculptor-in-residence.
Previous guest artists include Liz Magor, William Tucker, James Carl, BGL, Iris Häussler and Marlon Griffith.
The Louis Odette Sculptor-in-Residence program is made possible through the generous support of the P. & L. Odette Charitable Foundation.