Volume 96, Issue 65
Friday, January 24, 2003

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Western shows its art masters

By Brian Wong
Gazette Staff

Jordan Poppenk/Gazette
 

Every year, Western first-year students in the masters of fine arts program are given an opportunity to exhibit their work in a professional setting.

This year, the five artists involved – Deb Dyer, Lisa Fedorak, Al Homanchuk and the duo of Grant and Amy – offer a wide assortment of pieces that differ in medium and approach, displaying the diverse areas that MFA students have chosen to explore.

The works are exhibited in almost a semi-circle around the gallery, but a wide opening into the gallery space almost invites and encourages the viewer to travel in a counter-clockwise direction, which results in the possibility of the viewer first seeing the piece that seems intended to be the last one; that piece is Grant and Amy's "Sleeping Bag Shelter," an installation that serves as a getaway from the gallery setting.

Created from sleeping bags, a wooden frame and blankets, the shelter is a warm and cozy dome-shaped tent that houses small wooden seats and a record player. Outside the tent is the "outdoor" area created from faux grass and patio chairs, inviting gallery visitors to take a rest and even munch on some snacks that are included as part of the camping site.

Once visitors are well rested, they can begin admiring the other pieces on display. Al Homanchuk's "Incubation Unit" features black and white prints housed in eight light boxes that emit a warm glow.

The series of prints are a collection of documents from the artist's early schooling, including some artwork, a report card and a letter from a teacher that indicates some progress after "Alex" had difficulty in adjusting at school. Themes of growth, assessment and reassessment are considered, as the subject continually goes against expectations of development.

For Lisa Fedorak's six paintings, the artist was inspired by diagrams usually found in science and mathematics textbooks; she paints them on a larger scale. Works such as "Phase Transitions" and "Example of Least Work" emphasize the geometry of the shapes and lines, as well as the colours and textures of the paints, rather than the information that the diagrams were initially constructed to represent.

Finally, the delightful miniatures of Deb Dyer are displayed in the piece "Model Students," which recreates a lecture hall complete with cold, grey carpet, graffiti-covered desks, formula-marked blackboard and the voice of an invisible professor that is played back from under the hall floor. One could almost imagine a miniature version of him or herself sitting in one of the tidy-looking seats.

However, the kick is the large space that separates the front of the lecture hall and the students' seats, allowing viewers to walk right in between – it's probably the first time that you'll see any person want to get closer to the front of the room to hear a lecture.

Cognitive Dissonance runs until Jan. 31 at the ArtLab Gallery in the Visual Arts Centre on campus.

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2002 THE GAZETTE