Joanna Black, Portrait 2020-2021
September- December 2022
Artists & Researchers
Pam Patterson & Sasha Shevchenko (OCADU) Joanna Black & Sarah Paradis (University of Manitoba)
The recent regulated and confining pandemic years have operated to aggravate already existing anthropogenic anxieties. Climate change – oppressive unpredictable heat waves, uncontrolled forest fires, rising oceans levels – have had an impact on the race that both facilitated it and now roils from its effects. Aggressive urban sprawl bulldozes the land, and we search from among the rubble to find what of “land” remains. In Canada, the colonial project created divisiveness, poverty, and an early death for some, but also vast wealth and proprietorship for others. Can this unsettling situation be unraveled, or have we gone too far?
Anxiety became an oft-experienced emotion in our classrooms – mostly online - at our universities over the last two years. A research team, here represented by Pam Patterson, OCAD University and Joanna Black, University of Manitoba, sought to explore generative potentials found in addressing anthropogenic and Covid-19 anxieties. We worked alongside our students and with community members, galleries, and professional colleagues in a creative investigation. Over 100 people joined to broadly explore in visual mediums, personal narratives of the pandemic and the larger emerging anthropogenic era.
Here in exhibition alongside each other and paired respectively with students, Sasha Shevchenko, OCAD University and Sarah Paradis, University of Manitoba, we provide a glimpse into this complex dialogue.
The larger project is now housed on a website and, at the University of Manitoba, on an open access libguide.
|Pam Patterson, Killarney, 2020|
The Anglo-Irish castle garden presents a colonial vision of the world which is seemingly fertile and hospitable. But here in Bench (2019), this worldview is distorted, crowded, and challenged. We are further impelled into perceiving the nature of the impact of this distortion as lived, in the red Cholera Room (2020) on Grosse Isle, Canada. For centuries, we have found fertile land, shelter, and sustenance. But now this rich and rooted location has been disrupted and, as nomads, we have become detached and deeply troubled. An ambiguous relationship to land can speak to this disconnection, to a lack of knowledge or awareness of complicity. As Irish diasporic, my farming family, dispossessed of land, was lured to join the British “colonial” project to the New World. Some became impoverished, some implicated. Both Bench and Cholera Room, Grosse Isle address this complex narrative.
Pam Patterson’s (BA, MEd, PhD) research, performance and teaching have focussed on embodiment, disability and identity politics, and trauma. She is Assistant Professor at OCAD University and Director, WIAprojects, a feminist community-based, arts-informed collective and is Research Fellow at NSCAD University in the Master’s in Art Education Program. As a performance and visual artist, she has exhibited and performed across Canada and internationally, solo, and with Leena Raudvee as ARTIFACTS.
|Sasha Shevchenko, Reaper 2021|
Rich dense stalks of wheat grew around me. Living timelessly in the
Ukrainian flag. Yellow, awkward plains carved out into the earth, and I could
never find the end.
Плекати (Cherish): The wheat was wealth, and
abundance. It tickled the cheeks of family members at harvest . It is our
blood, our currency, and our identity – it is our land.
Горизонт (Horizon): I couldn’t see it. When the stubbles were burned – to control aphids and to regenerate nitrogen levels. Thick smoke enveloped the gold, and I saw the soil’s silent fury. It is a practice where we are one flame away from tragedy, two flames from losing who we are.
Жнець (Reaper): An obsolete taker. What does it mean to have a practice with the land? To let it serve on our tables and in our stories, but to know that its end haunts us.
Sasha Shevchenko (BFA) is a Ukrainian, Tkaronto/Toronto based interdisciplinary artist. Inspired by her experience as a Ukrainian diasporic person, her practice bridges sculpture, textile, archaeology, and intimate ethnography. By combining contemporary and ancient story-telling methods, Shevchenko creates propositional spaces where tradition can whimsically extend into cultural futures. Her work has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, Small Arms Gallery, VAM, Portland State University, along with international online exhibitions. Shevchenko holds a BFA in Sculpture and Installation from OCAD University.
Joanna Black,Covid-19 Spaces: Self Portrait
Climate change during our era of the Anthropocene is inextricably linked with Covid-19 -- since March 2020 humans have lived through this pandemic experiencing isolation, sickness, deaths, and cyclical periods of fear cut by suspended relief with Covid-19’s ebbs and flow. The beginning of the pandemic is portrayed by Winnipeg artist, Joanna Black in her art, Portrait 2020-2021 with the world shutting down: increasing death counts, isolation, and personal loss. Her video art, Covid-19 Spaces: Self Portrait, (Video Still) is about technology, location, interaction, and transmission. The technological lifelines in lockdowns create a sense of self that is amplified and echoed with cancelled face-to-face contact/communication as we increasingly rely on the sustenance and support of the virtual world.
Joanna Black (BA Fine Arts & English; MA, PhD, Arts Education) has since 1989 been active in visual art as an artist, curator, and speaker. She is a Professor at the University of Manitoba in Visual Art Education and is cross-appointed as an Adjunct Professor at the School of Art, University of Manitoba. Currently, she teaches visual art and art education at the University of Manitoba. Black has exhibited her new media, paintings, multimedia and performance artworks in Canada and the United States in solo and group shows. Her focus has always been on the political: art during Covid-19 in relation to the human condition and environment and art for social change and human rights issues.
Sarah Paradis, [Dis]connection
[Dis]connection is a video created by Sarah Paradis about how social interactions were limited during the Covid-19 pandemic from 2020-2022. Several themes that emerge from the video include social distancing, mask wearing, and inquisitive interactions between humans and computer screens. The movements in the video reflect how humans are engaging with each other as well as computer screens in a limiting way. This video responds to the social [dis]connections that our generation has experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. For this exhibition, Paradis captured still images (video stills) from the video [Dis]connection, which she used to create a series of individual self portraits. These self portraits portray the [dis]connections between Paradis and technology during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sarah Paradis (BFA, BEd, MEd) studied drawing, painting, ceramics, and video in addition to art history during her first undergraduate degree in Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba (UofM). She also holds a bachelor’s degree in education (2016) from the University of Manitoba and teaches grades 7-12 computer science, graphics, and digital film studies at St. John’s High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has also recently completed her master’s degree in Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning in the Faculty of Education at the UofM (2022).
Inter-Inter-, Cross-, Post-, Pre-, De-, Re-, In-, Con-, Pro-,
-ology, -ism, -ic, -izing, -ial
The Drawing Board
JJ Lee, Natalie Majaba Waldburger, & Amy Swartz
Opening Jan 2023
Materials: red tape, wire, dimensions variable
Red tape signifies a bureaucratic knot that hinders decision-making and
action-taking. During the time of Henry VIII, the most important documents
were wrapped in red. Henry VIII bombarded Pope Clement VII with red-wrapped
missives about annulling his marriage. This is the most famous use of bureaucracy
besieging the system and it has been used both consciously and inadvertently,
but nevertheless effectively, ever since. As artists and educators, our work
is entangled in a number of knots. Disentangling the bureaucratic knot is a
source of playful fascination and creative problem-solving. Named Rat King,
the sculpture of a ball of red tape recurs in our exhibitions and participatory
performance as a ubiquitous presence alongside our activities. Rat King
references the phenomenon, possibly apocryphal, whereby the tails of
rats living in close quarters become inextricably knotted. The rats, tethered
together, are forced to move as a writhing, disorganized mass while they
colonize spaces and consume resources.
Materials: accounting paper, pushpins, graphite, ink, conte
Consistent with the Drawing Board’s exploitation of office supplies
as artistic material, we began with grid paper as our drawing base.
We created mock diagrams, doodles, graphs and sculptures.
We responded to the supremacy of numbers, record keeping and
of accounting as institutional cultural practice. The grid drawings
are organized in a non-hierarchy of grid forms using pushpins.
The Drawing Board
The Drawing Board is an artist-educator collective (Natalie Majaba Waldburger, Amy Swartz and JJ Lee) that performs methodological explorations at the intersections of labour, process and drawing. Our creative dialogue investigates the complexities of work contextualized by institutional structures. Our artworks examine the role of drawing through collaboration, mediated by the institution’s colonial legacies including race construction, gender identification and organizational hierarchies among human resources.
The Drawing Board is a collective of Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U) educators/creatives researching institutional structure through drawing as play methodology. We came together in response to curiosities and frustrations with the rigidity of the institutional structure within which we work. We use play and humour as tools for critique. One method we use is performance, structured like committee meetings, and our drawings emerge from satirical play proposals presented with formalized bureaucratic procedure. These agenda items and proposals are formalized as motions and requirements for approval. Our dry, rule-oriented comedic approach illustrates bureaucracy’s ridiculousness when unhinged from context. We highlight absurdities of uncritical adherence to mechanisms of bureaucratic procedure and decision-making such as Robert’s Rules of Order that obscure progressive thinking, creative solution finding, equitable outcomes, and social innovation. We use humour to critique the institution’s regulatory frameworks that functionally oppress the expressions of creative diversity they claim to promote.
We use collaboration as a vehicle to bring attention to the ubiquitous medium of drawing and to address the means and methods of work and working relationships. Our collaborations take two forms; the first involves Drawing Board studio collaborations, with mixed media and multi-dimensional drawing-based artistic activities. The second approach widens the collaboration to include performance and event-based Drawing Board meetings that include a wide range of participants.
The Drawing Board would like to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts