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The past year has been a time of loss. What can art show us about processing grief? –



Let’s face it: the past year has been a time of loss. There have been many things to grieve, from people who lost their lives to COVID, to the times with our friends we used to have.

Today on Art 101, we’re going to look at some ways artists have processed loss to see if there are lessons in there we can use to ease our way through 2021 and back into our old (and new) lives.

It’s a heavy one. If you’ve lost someone this past year, it may be a little hard to watch. But it may also help.

Act 1: Death

Grief can be stunning in the way it hits you — and in the places or sights that bring you back to a terrible moment.

In 1991, Cuban-American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres memorialized his partner Ross Laycock in this image simply called Untitled.

(CBC Arts)

The image of a slept-in and rumpled empty bed can make a multitude of memories rush in: the idea of a life led next to a partner, the absence of that partner, and our impulse to hold on, from the fading smell of a loved one’s sweater to our unwillingness to make the bed and smooth out the creases made by someone who’s gone.

This next image is a bit more stark and graphic — take warning. In Felix Partz, June 5, 1994 (warning: graphic imagery), artist A.A. Bronson photographed his partner, only a few hours after his death.

It’s both really difficult to look at and look away from Felix’s gaze. But this is the truth of what death looks like. Both this photograph and the one by Gonzalez-Torres focus on loved ones lost to AIDS — an epidemic that in the 1990s was still laying waste to countless victims globally, and a generation of gay men more locally.

In a direct address to the losses we’ve felt over the past year from COVID-19, artist Ruth Cuthand created a series of masks painstakingly embroidered with the virus itself. Surviving: COVID-19 brings to mind not only the immense change that the virus has effected on our way of life, but it forces us to confront the virus, what it looks like, while we reflect on all we’ve lost over the past year.

Untitled by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, 1991 (Felix Gonzalez-Torres)

Act 2: Heartbreak

Not all loss is the result of death. As many people have felt particularly over the past year, the loss of a relationship provokes a feeling of grief that takes a lot of time to work through.

In 1988, Serbian artist Marina Abramovic created a work called The Walk with her then-partner Ulay. Though they had had the idea to walk the Great Wall of China from opposite ends years before, by the time they did the piece their relationship was almost over. Abramovic and Ulay walked the wall — 2,500 km total — and when they met at the centre, they officially ended their relationship, then walked past each other to the opposite end.

Second Wave: COVID-19 Mask No. 1, by Ruth Chuthand (Ruth Cuthand, 2021)

The first leg of the walk was filled with reflection and anticipation; the second, grief and the process of leaving someone behind.

A break-up, emotional trauma and illness were the generating forces behind Magdalene, the 2019 album by British artist FKA twigs. She took a relationship with actor Robert Pattinson that had left her with lasting intense sadness and turned it into this collection of songs that chronicles the pain she felt in the aftermath. And instead of a catharsis that ends in understanding, at the end of the album, Magdalene ends in a song called “cellophane” that continues to ask questions — about why the relationship ended, and what FKA twigs meant to her former partner.

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Act 3: What can we learn?

Everybody experiences loss and everybody does it in a different way, but what can we learn from the way artists process it and the way they use it in their work?

Well, maybe the first lesson is: grieving is a process. Whether it’s a death or a different sort of loss, we can’t assimilate it and move on in a day.

Maybe the second major lesson is: these works show us that it’s possible to make grief into something tangible. Each of these artists translated their sadness into something else, and perhaps that lets us know that giving our feelings a project can help us move from a state of loss into one of understanding.

And maybe the most important lesson might be: we’re not alone. Witnessing somebody else’s pain can actually give you ideas about how to handle your own.

I hope that these artworks have maybe given you an idea of how you might make sense of your own pain — or even nurture a little bit of hope for the future. I’ll see you next time for another episode of Art 101.

Artworks featured in this video:

49s – Untitled by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1991)

1m18s – Felix Parts, June 5th, 1994 by AA Bronson (1994/1999)

1m43s – COVID-19 Mask No. 1 by Ruth Cuthand (2020)

1m47s – COVID-19 Mask No. 8 by Ruth Cuthand (2020)

1m50s – Second Wave: COVID-19 Mask No. 1 (2021)

2m35s – “The Walk/The Lovers” by Marina Abramović (1988)

2m52s – “Magdalene” Album Artwork by Matthew Stone (2019)

3m23s – “Cellophane” by FKA twigs (2019)

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Imaginations, creativity of Mountview students on display at Cariboo Art Beat



Creative, imaginative artwork of students from Mountview Elementary School will be on public display at the gallery of Cariboo Art Beat until April 9.

“The students of Mountview elementary were all invited to participate in an art contest,” Tiffany Jorgensen said, an artist at Cariboo Art Beat.

Each class was separately judged by three professional artists at Cariboo Art Beat, Jorgensen said, based on the students’ creativity, techniques, use of space and originality.

“It was extremely difficult to select pieces from the abundance of beautiful art presented,” she said. “There is so much talent and fantastic imaginations.”

The artist of each selected piece was given formal invitations to their art show to distribute to whomever they choose, and Jorgensen said anyone is free to view the beautiful artwork throughout until April 9.

Honoured at the show were works from local artists Ryker Hagen, Annika Nilsson, Rylie Trampleasure, Angus Shoults, Izabella Telford, Isabella Buchner, Kai Pare and more.

“Come view their wonderful pieces to get a glimpse into the minds of our creative youth,” Jorgensen said.

“It’s been so fun. The kids have come in and seen their work on display with their grandparents, parents, and they’re all so excited.”

Following up on the success of the Mountview art show, Jorgensen said more elementary schools have been invited to participate.

April will feature the works of Nesika and Big Lake, followed by Marie Sharpe and Chilcotin Road next month.

Cariboo Art Beat is located at 19 First Ave., under Caribou Ski Source for Sports’ entrance on Oliver Street.

Rylie Trampleasure, Grade 2, has her work on display at Cariboo Art Beat. (Photo submitted)

Angus Shoults, Grade 4. (Photo submitted)

Angus Shoults, Grade 4. (Photo submitted)

Grade 3 student Izabella Telford. (Photo submitted)

Grade 3 student Izabella Telford. (Photo submitted)

Grade 6 student Kai Pare shows off her artwork. (Photo submitted)

Grade 6 student Kai Pare shows off her artwork. (Photo submitted)

Isabella Buchner

Isabella Buchner

Source:– Williams Lake Tribune – Williams Lake Tribune

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Launching the conversation on Newfoundland and Labrador art history



ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is a book that has been a long time coming, Mireille Eagan says.

While working at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Prince Edward Island, Eagan curated an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador joining Confederation with Canada.

“As I was researching, I noticed that there was very little that existed in terms of the art history of this province,” she said. “There wasn’t even a Wikipedia article.”

Noticing this large gap, “Future Possible” was a book that needed to exist, she said.

As the 70th anniversary approached in 2019, Eagan, now living in St. John’s and working as curator of contemporary art at The Rooms, envisioned filling that gap.

Over two summers, The Rooms held a two-part exhibition. The first looked at the visual culture and visual narratives before the province joined Confederation and the second focused on 1949 onward, Eagan said.

“At its core, it was asking, what are the stories we tell ourselves as a province? It was looking at iconic artworks, it was looking at texts that have been written about this place, and it put these works in conversation with contemporary artworks,” Eagan said.

In the foreword to the book, chief executive officer of The Rooms Anne Chafe described it as a complement to the exhibition and a project that “does not seek to be the final say. It seeks, instead, to launch the conversation.”

History and identity

One example of that conversation between the past and the present mentioned by Eagan is the work of artist Bushra Junaid, who moved to St. John’s from Montreal as a baby. The daughter of a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Junaid said her experience growing up in the province in the 1970s, where she always the only Black child in the room, was not like most.

“All of my formative years, my schooling and everything, took place in St. John’s,” she said. “It’s very much shaped my current preoccupation.”

Her interest in history, identity and representation led her to making “Two Pretty Girls…,” which used an archival photograph of Caribbean sugarcane workers from 1903 with text from advertisements for sugar, molasses and rum from archived copies of The Evening Telegram collaged over the women’s clothing.

In her essay “Of Saltfish and Molasses” published in “Future Possible,” she described the work as “(allowing) me to place these women and their labour within the broader historical context of the international trade in commodities that underpinned Caribbean slavery and its afterlife.”

It’s a direct connection between Newfoundland and people in the Caribbean, a historical line not often drawn through the context of the transatlantic slave trade, but one she knows personally through the stories told by her mother, Adassa, about their ancestor, Sisa, who “as a teenager, survived the horrors of the Middle Passage, enduring the voyage from West Africa to Jamaica in the hold of a slave ship (Junaid).”

A book like “Future Possible” allows people to interpret themselves and their past, present and future, Junaid says.

“I appreciate the ways in which they really worked to make it as broad and diverse as possible,” she said. “It’s also striving to tell the Indigenous history of the place, the European settler history … and then also looking for … non-Western backgrounds such as myself. It’s enriching.”

What shapes us

St. John’s writer Lisa Moore contributed an essay called “Five Specimens from Another Time” that weaves together moments from her own life, the province’s history and current realities and the art that has inspired her over the years.

“It’s really interesting to me to see all this work of people that I’ve written about in the past and whose work influenced me, even in my writing of fiction, and then newer artists,” Moore said. “I just think that the book is a total gift.”

With such a rich cultural history ready to be written, she imagines “Future Possible” is just the first of what could be many books about art in the province now that the “ice is cracked.”

“The writers that (Eagan) has chosen to write here are also really exciting critics from all over the province, talking about all kind of different periods in art history,” she said.

As time passes, the meaning of the works in the book becomes richer, she said.

Mary Pratt’s 1974 “Cod Fillets on Tin Foil” and Scott Goudie’s 1991 “Muskrat Falls,” for instance, are two images with seemingly straightforward and simple subject matter. But any viewer looking now, who is aware of the cod moratorium and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, would find it difficult to see and interpret these images outside of those contexts.

“Artists, writers, filmmakers … they’re keen observers of culture and the moment that we live in,” Moore said. “They present things that are intangible like the feeling of a moment, or the culmination of social, political and esthetic powers that come together at a given time and shape us.”

“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is available online and in stores.

Andrew Waterman reports on East Coast culture.
[email protected]
Twitter: @andrewlwaterman



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Parrott Art Gallery goes virtual to help flatten the curve – The Kingston Whig-Standard



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Feeling stir crazy because of COVID and the latest lock-down? Take a virtual trip to Morocco!

On Wednesday, April 14 at 2:30 p.m., the Parrott Gallery will host Lola Reid Allin’s Armchair Traveler online presentation: “Morocco: Sea, Sand and Summit”. Allin is an accomplished photographer, pilot, writer and speaker. Travel with her through the land of dramatic contrast and hidden jewels, busy markets and medieval cities, and enjoy some virtual sun.

For more information and to register for this free online event, please visit The Armchair Traveller Morocco photography exhibit is also available to view through the Parrott Gallery website until mid-May.

Even though our gallery is currently closed to the public, our exhibitions are all available to view online. Sam Sakr’s show “The Housing Project” is certain to bring a smile to your face. His collection of mixed media artwork will take you to a playful land of fantastical creatures that inhabit imaginary, stylized cityscapes. If your spirit needs uplifting, you need to see to see this show. I hope that everyone will be able to view Sakr’s work both online and then in our gallery after the lock-down ends in May. Without a doubt, it will be worth the wait to see it again in-person when we re-open.

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Another exhibition that you can currently visit on the Parrott Gallery website is the group show “Spring Sentiments: a Reflection of Art in Isolation”. This was a collaborative effort by the 39 artists who submitted their work, our staff who put the show together in the gallery and online, and our guest curator Jessica Turner. We are thrilled that Jessica was able to transcribe her experience with this show into a final paper for her Curatorial Studies BFA degree at OCADU.

The fact that we have had to close our doors just as this show was opening is a sad reflection of the theme as the audience must now reflect on this artwork at home, in isolation. The up-side to viewing this exhibition online is that one can read the artist statements that accompany the work and get a more in depth view of the artists’ perspectives. We encourage viewers to support our artists by sending in their comments and to vote for their favourites in the show by following the appropriate link on the webpage.

When you can’t come in to our building, the Parrott Gallery will bring the artwork to you. And then when the sun and flowers come out in May, and when it is safe to return to our gallery on the third floor of the Belleville Public Library, we hope to see you all again.

For questions about our online talk, our shows, or to purchase any of the artwork please call us at 613-968-6731 x 2040 or email us at

Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator at the John M. Parrott Art Gallery.

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