Marlene Creates explores the "Signs of Our Times"

Canadian road signs featured at McIntosh Gallery

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Photos of signs featured at the McIntosh Gallery

Gazette File Photo

STOP! IN THE NAME OF ART. "Signs of Our Times" is a new exhibit at McIntosh Gallery until Feb. 22 that highlights road signs from across various regions of Canada.

Right in the centre of campus is a terrific opportunity to witness work from a Canadian artist and learn about a variety of growing art forms in the country. Currently displayed at the McIntosh Gallery is “Signs of Our Times,” a series of photography pieces by Marlene Creates, collected over 10 years.

The exhibition is a collection of several separate pieces cataloguing provincial road signs Creates has photographed and related to one another.

“I often found the signs more interesting than what they were pointing at,” Creates explained to a large crowd who attended the exhibit’s opening last Thursday. “We like to think of signs as general but they’re not; they are very local, very particular [to an area].”

The first piece, collected in Newfoundland, is accompanied with short explanations of the photos in her own handwriting.

“Working with photographs for the past 30 years, I’ve realized what photography can’t convey. I often use text with photographs,” Creates says. “Sometimes [the text] is just parts of a conversation I heard at the location [of the photograph taken] mixed in with the history of my own visit. I’m very interested in the relationship between text and landscape.”

Creates’ next piece portrays the signs signaling the border of St. John’s with the surrounding area, as well as a similar theme for Quebec City.

“I was really interested in the boundaries ... I wanted to look at the distinction between what was urban area and what was not,” Creates says, further explaining she chose to make her photographs the size of postcards.

“I wanted to see how cities like to present themselves. I wanted to make [the photographs] the size of postcards to make anti-postcards. St. John’s is bigger than the image it has for itself.”

Her other pieces cover the prairies: one presents signs from Saskatchewan highlighting historical sites and another showcases “No Trespassing” and other restrictive signs from Alberta. The signs from Saskatchewan, all reading “Point of Interest,” amused Creates because “that sign could be anywhere and still be true.”

The Alberta piece holds a distinct interest among her work as it shows a divergence where people are allowed to walk and where exploration is forbidden.

Creates says the piece captivated her in that there were many more incidents “where there are wide vistas of land that are restricted” compared to the relatively smaller areas designated for walking.

“To me, the clusters of images together illustrate how humans restrict one another. The farther north I got, the fewer of these signs I saw. In other words, the closer I got to the American border, the more people cut one another out of these huge areas and I couldn’t help but think that had an influence.”

Creates was available only for a single tour before she returned to her six acres of boreal forest at Portugal Cove in Newfoundland, where she is currently busy at work on her next piece: a series of short haiku-like poetry photographed in the site of its inspiration. This next work, she claims, came as a more private exploration of her fascination with signs.

While admirers of her work will have to wait for this new piece to develop, her engaging examination of signs across the country is on display at the McIntosh Gallery until Feb. 22.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette