As I walked into Union Gallery’s new exhibit, entitled Groundwork, I was instantly transported into the wild as sounds of nature filled my ears.
Accompanying the main exhibit is Jeremy Kerr’s, ArtSci ’18, two alternating recordings ‘Islands’ and ‘The Woods’ that fill the space with noises of birds and windswept, snowy climes.
Groundwork features paintings and prints from fourth-year BFA candidates. The exhibition is meant to be an examination of the world by combining art with fields like psychology and environmental studies.
Each painting and print was hung around the space and varied greatly in size and medium. The first piece you see as you enter is CBC, a digital print by Kaitlin Groat.
The piece is a recreation of the famous logo used by the CBC, but, like many of the exhibit’s works, it isn’t that simple. As I got closer, I saw that the logo is actually composed of the word ‘deception’ in the familiar red repetitive copy.
This sort of ‘things aren’t what they seem’ imagery is employed in nearly all the artwork making up the exhibit.
As I came into the main space, the large, bright canvases of Emma White illuminated the room. Both feature scenes of nature in Lemoine Point, a large conservation area in the west end of Kingston.
One of White’s pieces, entitled Big Man, depicts a marshy field with grass, bulrushes and trees in the background. But, it has also been smudged and marked in such a way that the background is plainly visible only through and between splotches of bright pink paint.
When I got up close, I could see the beautiful landscape White has effectively recreated, but the marks are so strident that they’re impossible to ignore. The whole of Groundwork attempts, like White, to get the viewer of their work to realign their perceptions and see through the initial impression to the details it’s made up of.
All this time, as I examined the beautiful, laudable works of art done by fellow Gaels, and as I considered the effect they would have on me as I went out back into nature, I couldn’t escape the sounds of nature coming from behind a black curtain hanging nearby.
The sounds alternate every five minutes and are randomized so that they’re never the same. At first, it’s birds and then something that sounds like a tundra, or Kingston on a bad day.
Behind the curtain isn’t Oz, but the comfiest chair this reviewer has ever had the pleasure to sit in and a small, dimmed lamp on a small table.
All there is to do in the little room is sit and experience the sounds of nature from around the world.
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