Exhibition reflects contemporary questions and ideas

Posted: March 22, 2011 1:00 p.m.

(R to L) Fine Arts lecturer and alumnus Wendy Peart is joined by Laura MacDonald and Jill Malden, two of the 14 graduating Bachelor of Fine Arts students presenting their work at the MacKenzie Art Gallery until April 10.
(R to L) Fine Arts lecturer and alumnus Wendy Peart is joined by Laura MacDonald and Jill Malden, two of the 14 graduating Bachelor of Fine Arts students presenting their work at the MacKenzie Art Gallery until April 10. U of R Photography Dep't

It's another sign of new life emerging with spring-like-weather - the annual exhibition of works by University of Regina Fine Arts students at the MacKenzie Art Gallery.

Wendy Peart, a sessional lecturer in the Faculty, has organized the show for the past 10 years. She teaches a two-part course designed to help students in their professional development, since, "essentially, as self-employed artists, they will have to make their own jobs," says Peart, who has also experienced the challenges of being a working artist. "I also reinforce the idea that artists are important to the world and that no matter what jobs they do, the thinking skills they acquire here will serve them well."

This year 14 graduating Bachelor of Fine Arts students are presenting their most recent body of work. The works in the show reflect an astonishing diversity of ideas and techniques being explored by these visual artists. Certain themes, such as the exploration of identity and gender, or environmental concerns, tend to reappear from year to year, Peart notes.

Jill Malden's project, ‘Facework', for example, grew out of the unanswered questions she has about the social networking site, Facebook.

"I thought it would be interesting to research further," Malden says, "because it really belongs to this generation. I was thinking, ‘What happens to our Facebook page when we die?' and ‘Will I still want the same pictures up 20 years from now?' I began to think of Facebook as a tool through which we construct our identities, and ‘Facework' just grew from there."

Laura MacDonald had always been fascinated by astronomy, but recently she began noticing things - space debris, she learned - getting in the way when she gazed into the night sky. With help and guidance from Martin Beech, a professor of astronomy at Campion College, she completed her installation, ‘Conjunktion.' The installation is made up of a four-panel drawing of Orion Nebula and six drawings of space debris.

"For the ‘Space Debris' works," MacDonald explains, "I individually applied adhesive dots to paper, followed by pushing in silver leaf. These dots represent computer data points, which are meant to represent space junk. I based the images on NASA images of space debris that has been floating out there for up to 50 years. It took me a few months to complete these drawings," she adds.

Karli Jessup has always been aware of the surveillance cameras that are now commonplace everywhere we go, as well as the people behind the cameras and what they do with the information they're capturing. Her series of large prints reflect her concerns.

"I then brought ideas of gossip into the mix," says Jessup. "If these all-knowing machines see everything, then perhaps they are the biggest gossips of all. I attempted to portray this especially in the ‘Mabel II' piece, which shows two older women with camera heads, talking to one another."

Visit the MacKenzie Art Gallery website for more information and a complete list of students whose work is in the BFA Graduating Exhibition. The show runs until April 10.