2007 Past Exhibitions

"Chirashi - New works" Leslie Sasaki, Corner Brook
Michael MacFarlane "Works" Michael MacFarlane
Empherma, and Artifacts from the University Archives, assembled by the StFX History Society for Homecoming 2007
Wolastoqiyik - Portrait of A People
Figuring in the Figure: Works by 15 member artists of Visual Art Nova Scotia, Group Show, Province Wide
The Highland Art of Nova Scotia, Group Show
Breast Drum Project, Marlene Hilton Moore, Ottawa
Capturing the Light, Christopher Gorey, Ingonish

November 20, 2007 - December 21, 2007
Exhibition: "Chirashi - New works"
Leslie Sasaki, CornerBrook

Artist Statement:

The works in this exhibition create dialogues within a single frame. These dialogues are sometimes friendly, but sometimes more argumentative. They occur among formal elements and subject matters. For example, in some cases I have placed iconic images within the space of an abstract painting or, juxtaposed flatness against forms receding into space.

Many of the works have an up and down orientation. The values attached to these coordinates are a fascination for me. ‘Progress’, ‘higher’, ‘better’, being for the most part fictions.

I started the Walking on Eggshell series long ago as a way to continue painting. I wanted to reanimate the cliché; to communicate fragility and fear through these odd juxtapositions. As I worked on these I became more aware of how the imprint of the foot itself could convey a range of ‘feels’ from tentativeness to boldness. Over time I was able to deviate from the ‘recipe’ and allow in other ideas for imagery.

The Stephen Jay Gould painting is an homage to the late paleontologist. Gould was an excellent writer and clear thinker about hierarchy and progress. In many of his essays he paid particular attention to how scientific principles were represented visually. His two favourite analogies were the ‘evolutionary ladder’ and baseball. For this reason I have made reference to both in the painting. I also like that each represents a different model of time; one linear and open ended, and one cyclical.  The painting includes small acrylic transfers of illustrations of  Burgess Shale creatures. In my process I have had to ‘dig’ them out of the oil paint with paint stripper, somewhat like an archeologist might dig into the earth. 

The acrylic transfers carry on into the small paintings. Here the dialogues continue: figuration with abstraction; the street level and the everyday with the sublime.

October 2, 2007 - November 18, 2007
Exhibition: Michael MacFarlane "Works"
Michael MacFarlane

A native of Antigonish, Michael is well known in the local arts scene.  He holds a BA from StFX and a BFA from NSCAD and has been the recipient of numerous arts awards, bursaries and scholarships.  He also studied in India and Italy.  His work is found in public and private art collections in North America, Europe and Asia.  In 2003 StFX acquired three of his works for the University Permanent Collection.  He has exhibited at NSCAD, provincially through Visual Arts Nova Scotia, and in Antigonish through the StFX and the Lyghtesome Galleries. This exhibition marks his first solo show in his home town.  Michael MacFarlane is currently a faculty member in the StFX Art Department. He currently lives in Pictou with his wife Paula and new son Cameron.

As the title of this exhibition indicates, the exhibition is about just that: painting.  Known as a painter's painter, Michael has consistently demonstrated his skills in controlling the medium of his choice in a signature style.

This exhibition is a collection of over 45 pieces varying in size from 7 inches square to as large as 5 feet.  As an indication of Michael’s growing skills, the smaller works are tours de force in making a small work seem spacious and larger than life. Not to be outdone, the larger works are exercises in masterful compositions which prevent the viewer by being overwhelmed by scale.  All of this is enhanced by the artist's use of a monochromatic pallet which emphasizes the brushstrokes but not at the expense of either imagery or composition.  It is in this area, the visual brush stroke; a lozenge of wet paint and action, that Michael MacFarlane is at his strongest, authoritatively reminding us that we are in the presence of the art of painting.

We would like to thank our 2007/2008 corporate exhibition sponsor, MacLeod Group Incorporated, for their generous support.

September 25, 2007 - September 30, 2007
Exhibition: Empherma, and Artifacts from the University Archives, assembled by the StFX History Society for Homecoming 2007

September 17, 2007 - September 21, 2007
Exhibition: Wolastoqiyik - Portrait of A People

August 21, 2007 - September 14, 2007
Exhibition: Figuring in the Figure: Works by 15 member artists of Visual Art Nova Scotia
Group Show Province Wide

Art using the human form as its starting point is intrinsically connected to the body politic. There has always been a sad absence of art shows using the body as theme within Nova Scotia’s public galleries outside of Halifax. Yet, a vast number of our artists make work that deals specifically with this and within that genre we find birth, death, and everything in between.

Publicly exhibiting images of breasts and penises anticipates a political mine field. Real or imagined, it lends itself to fear and fear is never a fiction. Nova Scotia’s ingrained conservatism ensures the censure of such exhibits not withstanding the widespread lack of exhibition opportunity. Outside of NSCAD’s sphere of influence, successive provincial governments have carefully groomed topiaries of “safe” and, therefore, marketable culture as comfy as that last cup of tea before bed.

In general, it can be said that all living things are focused on self propagation.  With this comes a great cacophony, globally without let up, 24/7. Birth, death, and sex all occur simultaneously. As a sentient species we are a combination of drives and emotions and with this combination arises complexities and the possibility to manipulate and be manipulated.

Mass culture’s global imaging of the human figure demonstrates our love of the mirror.  It is clear how the (mis)use of our reflection markets and lubricates its structures. The use of images in gender based power dynamics manipulate and exploit sex. Unfortunately most, if not all, power structures intrinsically, and invariably, use some form of violence. 

What is naked and what is nude? Is naked a state where the body is simply exposed and the nude one veiled by a politicized etiquette? Post-modern feminist and gay/lesbian discourse has educated us to the abuses of figure representation. The moment we recognize the image as body we interpret and position accordingly. It seems that distinctions between naked and nude are subjective.  In "Figuring in the Figure" we are brought to this point of decision by artists Jo Beale, Kenny Boone, Anne Camozzi, Holly Crooks, Ryane M.I. Driscoll, Ed Huner, Carol Kennedy, Lisa Leahey-McIsaac, Dawn MacNutt, James MacSwain, Susan Malmstrom, Margaret Nicholson, Irena Schön, Ian Sherman, and Marlien Suermondt.

The art in this show represents a wide spectrum of body perception. There are pieces that show the human form imbedded in the landscape, echoed in the strata of rocks, the burls of trees, and tradition of basket weaving.  Others depict the body moving through the landscape, part of it yet detached, as if the two are foreign to each other but in both the spark of the divinity has equal weight. Some works ask us to see past the conventions of beauty and to look at the fat, the wounded, and the less than perfect, in the true light of normality.  We are asked to see the resilience of the human body and spirit and to consider the flesh as both vehicle and vessel capable of transcending pain and sickness. Others investigate the obvious male/female dichotomy forcing us to deal with the body politics through patriarchal/matriarchal symbolism.

"Figuring in the Figure" acknowledges a politicized climate. The courage of these 15 artists challenges us to reconsider the naked and the nude while offering highly distinctive views of sexuality, politics, mortality and ultimately ourselves.

July 16, 2007 - August 17, 2007
Exhibition: The Highland Art of Nova Scotia
Group Show

The StFX University Art Gallery’s Summer 2007 Exhibition Season continued with "The Highland Art Of Nova Scotia" July 16 through to August 17. Organised and curated by local artist and executive member of the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia Jerry MacGillivray, this exhibition is in celebration of the 2007 International Gathering of the Clans. Through the Federation, Jerry asked NS artists and collectors associated with the various member clans to submit works and the resulting show is a collection of 42 paintings drawings, photographs and reproductions.

Where as one might think that the exhibition would only include things Scottish, this is not the case. Of this Jerry says: "The whole idea of this exhibition is to be inclusive and to produce a show that is enjoyable to all". It should be noted that the majority of works on display were gifted and collected not so much for their monetary value but as tokens of love and esteem. Jerry continues "part of philosophy of a true Highland Artist is art for all and art from all and that being said, this is how we present this exhibition". The artists and collectors represented span the length of the province, from Yarmouth to Cape Breton.

In addition to "The Highland Art In Nova Scotia" art lovers can visit the Guysborough, Antigonish and Pictou Arts and Culture Council’s 10th annual "Gathering of the Arts at the Antigonish Courthouse", July 16 to 22. All in all a very busy week as our visual arts community celebrates the 144th Antigonish Highland Games.

May 30, 2007 - June 29, 2007
Exhibition: Breast Drum Project
Marlene Hilton Moore, Ottawa

The StFX University Art Gallery’s Summer 2007 Exhibition season began with well known Canadian artist Marlene Hilton Moore’s "The Breast Drum Project". This is an exciting multi- media installation centered around autobiographical stories about women, who they are, what they do, how they live, think and feel.

"The Breast Drum Project" stories are catalyzed around the metaphor of beating ones own breast made literal by a large drum made of hide, spun steel, and bronze. These are stories that reveal intimacies specific to the teller but universal to the listener. The stories weave the cycle of life with the inevitabilities of joy and suffering, of birth and death. These are stories made all the more poignant by a subtext of ambient sounds: the sounds of interior and exterior space, the sounds of wind, of fire, and water, the sounds of home and land. In the performance Ray Dillard interacts with the rhythms and cadences of the stories and story tellers, the information encoded in the background sounds, plus the clear truth of the given stories. These stories are about lives lived in specific locations all found in the vast geography of Canada.  One must wonder if the vastness is a parallel to the solitude of the individual softened only by the act of sharing.

April 10, 2007 - May 18, 2007
Exhibition: Capturing the Light
Christopher Gorey, Ingonish

The StFX University Art Gallery is pleased to begin its 2007 exhibition season with Between Earth and Sky, an exciting exhibition by emerging artist Nicholas Johnson.

Nicholas Johnson splits his time between Ohio Antigonish County and Colchester, Vermont. He has studied at the University of Vermont and is a graduate of King's College with a degree in Philosophy and Early Modern Studies. Often tending toward the creative in his academic work, piling up ideas and images in difficult and poetic language, he found in painting something more suited to his temperament than the written word.

Nicholas Johnson began his path as an artist with an extensive knowledge of old world philosophy and art history. Rather than follow a regular North American course of art school study, Nicholas immersed himself in an uncompromising program of painterly exploration following the guild tradition of apprenticeship.  For the past two years, off and on, Nicholas has apprenticed to the surrealist painter Ernst Fuchs in Klagenfurt, Austria. There, Nicholas assisted the master and his son Michael in doing mural and decorative work on the St Egid Parish Church Apocalypse Chapel. He was taught an old world technique of tempera under-painting and oil glazing. On his last trip Nicholas’ proficiency was advanced enough to be allowed to work unsupervised on a paradise section of the chapels painting

In his own work Johnson has been inspired by the English school of landscape and semi-realism of the pre-renaissance iconography. Through the use of earth tones, ochers and siennas, applied in a technique that incorporates many layers of glazing, Nicholas’ pieces exude a warmth and glow rarely seen in contemporary painting. This aesthetic combined with imagery articulating the human figure in landscape and symbolism has created an impressive body of work that speaks of mystery and spirituality.