Diversity on display

Fine Arts grads stage year-end exhibit

“What You See is What You Get,” by Chien-Ming Huang, explores the immigrant’s struggle with identity.
“What You See is What You Get,” by Chien-Ming Huang, explores the immigrant’s struggle with identity.
Pat Tanzola

It's the swanky Agnes Etherington Art Centre's sophomore year of hosting the Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates' end-of-year exhibit. Guest curator Peter Krausz, from the University of Montreal, chose works to represent the accomplishments of the 29 students that make up the BFA ’01 class.

The exhibit makes good use of the two galleries allotted to them, placing the smaller, delicate pieces in the intimate Samuel J. Zacks Gallery, and the installations and larger canvases in the spacious Contemporary Features Gallery. As Krausz indicated in his message, the works are impressive in their use of diverse materials. In the first room, viewers don white gloves to handle lithographs and hand-made paper. In the same room, Keith Venkiteswaran's “Godard's Elevator” pursues a more contemporary method. The digital image is a transient shot of vertical movement, but also resembles the ultrasound image of a fetus.

Other highlights include Takeshi Miyazawa's painting, “Mannequins,” which juxtaposes full-bodied, motionless mannequins against half-dressed, headless mannequins and displaced stacks of folded shirts. The effect is that the torsos and shirts acquire life in contrast to the disturbingly still mannequins. An intelligent combination of mediums is found in Kristina Small's “Shape of Fear #2”, where the viewer is confronted with a portrait of a beckoning little girl, but cannot approach because a trough of glass shards lies at the foot of the canvas. Two works involve televisions. Chien-Ming Huang's canvases and video explore the immigrant struggle with confused identities. His paintings, “What You See is What You Get,” are two strikingly similar portraits, although one is dressed in traditional Chinese costume and the other in 21st-century garb. Julie and Dale Galloway's “Blanket Project” couples a video of a pair of hands knitting with an armchair full of half-finished scarves and afghans. The occupied armchair is strangely uninviting, seeming to suggest the tenuous relationship between mother and daughter, as described on the voice-over in the video. Unfortunately, these two works are too close together and their soundtracks often mask each other.

The other works use a potpourri of unconventional materials, such as woven wire, copper plates, oranges and stem samples. Overall, the show is polished, the surroundings are professional, and the art is quality work.

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