Lighthouse Wire a beacon of hope

Samantha Mogelonsky’s “Digiti Hominum,” featured in Lighthouse Wire.
Samantha Mogelonsky’s “Digiti Hominum,” featured in Lighthouse Wire.

Lighthouse Wire is a beacon of hope in an otherwise rough sea of student arts publications.

As I glanced at the cover of Vol. 4, I knew I was going to enjoy writing this review. Not that I judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you just know. The cover art, an inkjet print by Chin-Chien titled “Lumina souvenir,” is a stark image of an older-middle-aged woman in a white ribbed sweater, holding a Christmas ornament in each hand. The contrast between the delicate features of the feminine ornaments and the vacant stare of the woman holding them is gripping. I couldn’t wait to see what was inside.

As I flipped past the table of contents, I laughed out loud. Right there in front of me was a photograph of a box full of wax fingers that looked so real and yet so unreal. “Digiti Hominum” by Samantha Mogelonsky is at once beautiful, repulsive and, well, downright creepy. But the dark comedy that underlies the work makes it a success.

Simplicity of form coupled with highly conceptual themes unifies the magazine, making this volume of Lighthouse Wire exceptional.

“Sugar Cookies” by Bitsy Knox is refreshing. If you’re at all interested in the different ways people record history, this work will interest you. The image shows the photocopied spread of a recipe book. On the left-hand page are a mess of notes unrelated to cooking. A short note below in red ink reads: “B, Granny used her recipe book to keep a record of all the BCP/RCMP wives 1935-1969. xDad.” Now, I’m not positive it says “wives,” but from looking at the image and trying my best to decipher the scrawl, I’m 99 per cent sure that’s what it says. And that is the true beauty of this work. Reading the jumble of names and dates, thinking about who these people were, considering making the recipes for cookies shown on the right-hand page—these thoughts will keep you busy for hours. They’ll suck you into the art and make you wonder about who “Granny” was and what she was like.

In “Bedtime Stories II,” the artist, Sarah Smith, has taken a copy of a page from each of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and found a way of erasing some of the text, transforming the words and the message. The best part about it is that a close inspection will allow the viewer to see faint traces of the original text, so it can be read both ways.

Toward the back were three more prints by Chin-Chien. Each image focused on a single person standing alone in an empty room and looking disillusioned by life. The haunting absence of emotion in Chin-Chien’s images is striking.

One of the images I most enjoyed was the center spread by Lisa Visser. Titled “Comfort,” the image incorporates eight veneer panels, on which chairs are printed, with the remaining four incorporating text. The image is complex and a written description can’t do it justice, but it combines warm colours, slightly abstracted lines and multiple textures that almost seem real on the page. The message in the text is rather disheartening, adding an element of complexity that gives this image its agency.

While I originally thought Grace O’Connell’s poem “Balcony Eulogy” should have mixed text and image, I slowly changed my mind. The poem, like much of O’Connell’s work, is a sculpture of words, an image and a text simultaneously.

While some may disagree with my assessment, remember that art is a matter of personal taste, so this magazine won’t be for everyone. But give it a chance and I’d be willing to bet you’ll find it grows on you.

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