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Making climate data ‘more human’ — drone footage inspires Fiona art exhibit

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A drone’s eye view of P.E.I.’s shoreline has served as the inspiration behind a new exhibit of handwoven art, including two pieces depicting damage to the Island’s coast caused by Fiona.

The drone port at UPEI’s Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation in St. Peter’s Bay is not far from the gallery where the art is on display.

Shift is a solo exhibition by artist Rilla Marshall, who for over a decade has explored the Island’s changing coastlines through her artwork.

“2010 was when I really got into mapping,” Marshall said. “Part of it was just growing up on P.E.I. always interested in the shoreline as this liminal space that’s in a constant state of transition not only in a physical way… but also on a metaphorical level.

“I find the shoreline is a very rich subject to explore.”

A woven piece showing an island with red around it
This piece was based on a drone image showing erosion around Ram Island after Fiona. Marshall says it looked like ‘the island was bleeding.’ (Shane Hennessey/CBC )
An island with red soil eroded into the water around it
This photo of Ram Island inspired the piece above. (Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation)

“There’s a lot of artists working with climate change right now. I feel like more and more it’s just become part of our common knowledge, our cultural zeitgeist,” Marshall said.

“I think art can play a really important role in engaging people with the subject of climate change, and making it more accessible and personalized.”

Changing shorelines

Waves around an island in a woven piece of artwork
This piece shows waves caused by Fiona crashing to the shore near Park Corner. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

The artist was given access to drone footage that’s been collected since 2018 as part of research into coastal erosion. She then translated those visuals into a series of handwoven pieces.

“Depicting these areas of shoreline that somebody’s familiar with but from a perspective that [you’d never] have unless you have a drone also creates these personal connections to people. [They’re] able to see how those changes affect the shorelines that we love over time,” Marshall said.

“I think all Islanders feel a strong sense of ‘Islandness’ and a connection to our Island. And I think using art to talk about climate change is a great way to pull on those heartstrings a little bit.”

Framed pieces of woven artwork hang on a wall
‘I think all Islanders feel a strong sense of ‘Islandness’ and a connection to our Island. And I think using art to talk about climate change is a great way to pull on those heartstrings a little bit,’ Marshall says. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Marshall said the combination of science and art was also inspiring.

“Having a conversation between the ‘old tech’ of weaving, and the high-tech production of drone images is a very interesting conversation to have,” Marshall said.

[It’s] taking that hard data and being able to translate into something that’s a little bit more human.—Rilla Marshall

“[It’s] taking that hard data and being able to translate into something that’s a little bit more human.”

Shifting perspectives

A woman stands in front of two pieces of artwork
Alexis Bulman, curator of the Shift exhibit, says the exhibit’s name has multiple meanings. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Alexis Bulman is the artist-in-residence and curator of the centre’s art gallery.

Shift as a title, it has two meanings,” Bulman said.

“One being the sort of shift of sediment from the shorelines into the water, the act of erosion. But it also is meant to represent our ‘shift’ in how we think about erosion. How we protect shorelines is changing, and how we learn about that information is changing as well.

How we protect shorelines is changing, and how we learn about that information is changing as well.– Alexis Bulman

“Like with this exhibition, you’re not just learning about it through the data collected through the UPEI Climate Lab, but through an exhibition by a local artist.”

Post-Fiona emotions

A man looks at a drone on the table in front of him
UPEI researcher and drone pilot Andy MacDonald says he was ‘blown away’ by the artwork. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

UPEI researcher and drone pilot Andy MacDonald said he was “blown away” by the artwork.

“The imagery we get from the drones, I think it makes perfect sense to translate that into art,” MacDonald said.

“Prince Edward Island is a very unique place. We have unique coastlines, and I think documenting that in an artistic way is great. Very creative.”

MacDonald said the exhibit is also timely, as UPEI researchers continue to document the post-tropical storm’s damage to the Island.

“Obviously Fiona was a dramatic event, and I think a big part of what art can do is express all sorts of different emotions,” he said.

“I know a lot of people are feeling grief and sadness after Fiona and what it’s done, and art is a way to express that.”

A drone view of a cliff with rocks crumbled below
Savage Harbour is one of the communities where the UPEI Climate Lab’s drone crew found extensive Fiona-related damage. (Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation)

Marshall’s art will be on display until June 15 at the centre in St. Peter’s Bay, by appointment only.

There was a public opening on the weekend, but it’s mainly being viewed by people attending conferences there, or visiting on field trips.

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Ehiko: The Multidisciplinary Artist Shaping Decolonization Through Art

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Ehiko, a multidisciplinary artist born in Lagos, Nigeria, now calls Toronto, Ontario, her home. An OCAD University graduate, she has gained recognition for her powerful and evocative works that delve into the complexities of decolonization, health and wellness, spirituality, sexual violence, and the representation of melanated hair.

Ehiko’s artistic journey began in the vibrant city of Lagos, where the rich cultural heritage and traditional artistry influenced her deeply. This foundation blossomed in Toronto, where she continued to experiment and manipulate raw canvas due to its flexibility. Her expressive palette and the use of various textiles pay homage to traditional Nigerian craftsmanship, creating a unique blend of contemporary and ancestral art forms.

Her works are not just visually striking but also laden with profound messages. Ehiko’s exploration of decolonization is evident in her large-scale multi-medium paintings, performances, drawings, and installations. Each piece she creates is a testament to her commitment to unravelling spirituality linked to traditional Afrakan masks, presenting a dialogue between the past and present.

One of the central themes in Ehiko’s work is health and wellness, particularly within the context of the Black community. She addresses the often-overlooked aspects of mental health and the importance of wellness practices rooted in African traditions. Through her art, Ehiko encourages a reconnection with these practices, promoting healing and resilience.

Sexual violence is another critical subject Ehiko tackles with sensitivity and boldness. Her works often depict the pain and trauma associated with such experiences while also highlighting the strength and resilience of survivors. By bringing these issues to the forefront, she fosters conversations that are essential for societal change and healing.

The representation of melanated hair in Ehiko’s art is a celebration of Black identity and beauty. Her pieces challenge societal norms and stereotypes, presenting Black hair in its diverse and natural forms. This representation is not only about aesthetics but also about reclaiming cultural identity and pride.

Ehiko’s exhibitions in Lagos and Toronto have garnered significant attention, and her private collection of purchased work is available upon request. Her contributions to the art world extend beyond her creations; she is also an advocate for using art as a tool for social change and empowerment.

In every piece, Ehiko weaves her experiences, heritage, and vision, creating a tapestry that speaks to the heart and mind. Her work is a powerful reminder of the role of art in decolonization and healing, and her journey continues to inspire and influence the global art community.

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Home + Away artwork opens in Vancouver’s Hastings Park

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A new art installation now towers over Vancouver’s Hastings Park fields in celebration of the city’s history of spectators and sports.

Home + Away is a sculpture by Seattle artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studio, which opened Monday in the southeast end of the historic park.

It’s a 17-metre-tall structure that resembles a narrow set of bleachers — similar to the stands of the Empire Stadium, which stood on the site of the park from 1954 to 1993 and hosted The Beatles, among many others. It recalls a covered ski jump that stood there in the 1950s and the nearby wooden rollercoaster at the PNE.

The city says the public is invited to walk the stairs and sit on the benches.

“In addition to being visually striking, this artwork is intended to be ascended, sat on and experienced. It offers exciting experiences of height and views and provides 16 rows of seating for up to 49 people, making for a unique spectator experience when watching events at Empire Fields,” the city said in a release Monday.

The idea for the park to include public art was outlined in the Hastings Park “Master Plan,” first adopted by the city in 2010. The city says Han and Mihalyo first presented their design in 2015.

“It’s wonderful to see this piece realized within the context of such a well-used public space,” said Han.

Home + Away was inspired directly by the site history of spectatorship, and we hope it will connect Hastings Park users to that history and the majestic views of the environment for many decades to come,” added Mihalyo.

The artwork features a large light-up sign, in the style of a sports scoreboard, that reads “HOME” and “AWAY.”

 

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Bill Viola, Video Artist Who Established the Medium as an Integral Part of Contemporary Art, Dies at 73

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Bill Viola, whose decades-long engagement with video proved vital in establishing the medium as an integral part of contemporary art, died on July 12 at his home in Long Beach, California. He was at 73 years old. The cause was complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. The news of his passing was confirmed by James Cohan Gallery.

Viola’s works are centered around the idea of human consciousness and such fundamental experiences as birth, death, and spirituality. He delved into mystical traditions from Zen Buddhism to Islamic Sufism, as well as Western devotional art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in his videos, which often juxtaposed themes of life and death, light and dark, noise and silence. These explorations were achieved by submerging viewers in both image and sound with cutting-edge technologies for their time.

“I first used the camera and lens as a surrogate eye, to bring things closer, or to magnify them, to experiment with perception, to extend vision and make lengthy observations of simple objects,” Viola said in a 2015 interview. “Once you do that, their essence becomes visible. So I suppose I was always interested in the inner life of the world around me.”

Beginning in the 1970s, Viola created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast—all of which expanded the scope of the medium and established Viola as one of its most notable practitioner.

Video still of a man diving into water that has been reversed. The image is mostly black and teal.

In 2003 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Tate, London; and the Centre Pompidou in Paris jointly acquired Bill Viola’s 2001 three-channel video installation Five Angels for the Millennium.

Photo Kira Perov/©Bill Viola Studio

Bill Viola was born in 1951. He grew up in Queens and Westbury, New York, and attended P.S. 20 in Flushing, before receiving his BFA in experimental studios from Syracuse University in 1973. There, he studied with visual art with the likes of Jack Nelson and electronic music with Franklin Morris.

Following his graduation, between 1973 to 1980, Viola studied and performed with composer David Tudor in the music group Rainforest, which later became known as Composers Inside Electronics. He also worked as technical director at the pioneering video studio Art/tapes/22 in Florence, Italy from 1974 to 1976. During that time he encountered the work of other seminal video artists like Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, and Vito Acconci.

Viola was subsequently an artist-in-residence at New York’s WNET Thirteen Television Laboratory between 1976 to 1983, wherein he created a series of works that premiered on television. He traveled to the Solomon Islands, Java, and Indonesia to record traditional performing arts between 1976 and 1977. Later that year, Viola was invited to show work at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, by cultural arts director Kira Perov, with whom he married and began a lifelong collaboration.

He was appointed an instructor in advanced video at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in 1983. He was the Getty Research Institute scholar-in-residence in Los Angeles in 1998 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.

In 1985, Viola received with a Guggenheim Fellowship for fine arts, and later that decade, in 1989, he was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. His work was also featured in some of the world’s most notable exhibitions, including Documenta VI in 1977, Documenta XI in 1992, the 1987 and 1993 editions of the Whitney Biennial, and the 2001 Venice Biennale.

In 1995, he represented the United States at the 46th edition of the Venice Biennale. For the pavilion, Viola produced the series of works “Buried Secrets,” including one of his most known works The Greeting, which offers a contemporary interpretation of Pontormo’s oil painting The Visitation (ca.1528–30). The Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin and New York’s Guggenheim Museum commissioned the digital fresco cycle in high-definition video, titled Going Forth By Day, in 2002.

Viola’s work was the subject of a major 25-year survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1997, which subsequently toured internationally. His work has been the subject of major museum retrospectives in the years since, including at the Grand Palais in Paris (in 2014), the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (2017), the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain (2017), and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia (2019), as well as an exhibition pairing his work with that of Michelangelo at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2019.

Viola is survived by his wife Kira Perov, who has been the executive director of his studio since 1978, and their two children.

“One thing that’s very exciting about video that has turned me on since I first saw this glowing image way back in 1970 is that it can be so much,” Viola said in a 1995 with Charlie Rose on the occasion of this US Pavilion at the Biennale. “Furthermore, what’s really exciting is I don’t think it’s been since really the Renaissance where artists have been able to use a medium that one could say is the dominant communication form in society.”

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