Volume 92, Issue 35

Thursday, November 5, 1998

a little bit louder now


Artists' Fieldwork is part of themselves

Photo ©Chris Chaconas/Gazette

By Christina Vardanis
Gazette Staff

While school and lectures tend to emphasize rote memorization, even the most acknowledged professors will admit first hand experience makes for a more effective learning tool. The students and alumni of Western's visual arts community must have had a hint of this notion.

Fieldwork is the name of the current display at the ArtLab in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. It features the works of both students and members of the community in an effort to recapture the days when London was considered a regional art centre and its artists were devoted to producing art which was personal, yet reflective of its artistic era and influence. Boasting a number of different themes, purposes and artistic bents, the show succeeds in delivering its message.

Most of the works boast multimedia canvases, with an emphasis on making mundane objects extraordinary. Local artist Rob Brenner leads the way with "Trans/mission: Papaya Vectors/Foreign Fruit," an exhibit which stings the nose before the eye can take in its message. Brenner investigates a diseased papaya plant and surrounds it with photos and colour photocopies, which act as the artist's intervention. Brenner's work is reflective of his background in agricultural engineering and infects all the senses with an actual rotting papaya as the centrepiece of the work. He bridges the gap between the elusiveness of art and the reality of its purpose – swatting the fruit flys away reinforces this idea.

"Lost and Found A, B and C" is the fieldwork of honours graduate Aidan Urquhart which evokes joy and nostalgia, followed by emptiness. He displays the lost clothing items of children on hanging quilts, with scattered toys littering the floor of the exhibit. While at first the bright colours and familiar toys are heart-warming, as a whole the piece stands as if it has suddenly been abandoned. The toys are arranged as if they were just in use then left abruptly, while an image of a skull is subtly incorporated into the quilts of clothing. It quickly becomes apparent there is more lost here than just material items.

A field stretcher accompanied with stained canvases marks Jen Kime's corner of the gallery, with the stretcher hanging ominously from a massive hook in the ceiling and the canvases strewn about below. Named "Poles Apart," it also incorporates inspection mirrors lined against the wall on which stretcher straps hang randomly. It's apparent a battle is waging, but a victory has yet to be captured.

Other works in the display include a clever, cynical use of photographs and a lightbox map which brilliantly lights the way to art in London. Altogether, this show is an enjoyable walk down the path of experiences and ideas of recognized artists in the community.

Fieldwork is on display until Nov.8 with a reception tonight at 8:30 p.m..

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998