Union Gallery highlights student art with two new exhibitions

‘Lens/Visions’ and ‘Growing ; pains’ forge creative space for artists despite pandemic

The short film "Dinner" was shot in a single take.
Still from "Dinner"

In an emerging digital environment, artistic productions across the globe have moved onto our computer screens and iPhones. Despite digital restrictions, however, Union Gallery managed to keep the spontaneous energy of film and the art of sculpture alive in its two virtual exhibitions, Lens/Visions and Growing ; pains.

On Nov. 12 and 13, Lens/Visions, a virtual screening of 11 short films created by Queen’s students and recent graduates was streamed on Facebook Live. The amalgamation of creative projects ranged from themes of environmentalism to romantic relationships, and varied in terms of film approaches, showcasing the breadth of creativity at Queen’s.

The production was curated by Roy Zheng, Union Gallery curatorial assistant, who introduced the films and led a Q&A session following the screenings. This collaborative space where viewers could actively engage with artists created a real sense of community and proved how impactful film can be in the midst of global unrest.

The films were organized into two guiding themes, with ‘Mobile Lens’ on the first day and ‘Critical Visions’ on the second. The films of ‘Critical Visions’ encompassed the more palpable themes of isolation and unrest, which carried a heavier tone compared to films in the ‘Mobile Lens’ collection.

James P. Hoban’s Dinner was an emotionally tense six minutes, expertly shot in a single take. The short film revolved around a young couple struggling to sit down for dinner, as sounds of violence and destruction were present outside. Though dialogue was minimal, the film captured the existential fear and chaos around us as we struggle to maintain normality.

Other notable productions included Ming Xing and Siyang Hu’s Lahu in the Clouds, which depicted the Lahu peoples living in the high mountains of China’s Yunnan Province. The cinematography and imagery were particularly breathtaking, transporting viewers to a completely different cultural landscape.

Xing and Hu’s poetic documentary juxtaposes Nanpo—a quiet paradise—with the spread of COVID-19 around the rest of the world. It specifically emphasizes the relationship between contemporary Chinese ethnic minorities and nature. Undertones of the pandemic were present in multiple films, both explicitly and covertly.

After the festival screening on Facebook Live, Lens/Visions was transformed into an on-site exhibition at the Union Gallery in the Project Room.

In addition to Lens/Visions, Union Gallery also displayed Growing ; pains, which the Gallery described as a portrayal of “the oftentimes painful journey of growth through whimsical and vulnerable larger-than-life sculptures.”

Growing ; pains featured the work of Hannah Gommerman, who is a third-year BFA student at Queen’s studying sculpture and painting. Her work is described as interactive, and at times humorous, bridging the poetic with the often uncomfortable and funny reality of opening up.

Gommerman’s sculpture Heart Strings required viewers to physically engage with an oversized geometric heart, folding the sculpture open to reveal inner details. It was a profound exercise on deepening human relationships and the hard truths buried under layers of emotional protection.

Both exhibitions displayed the talent of young artists in the Queen’s community, captivating audiences both virtually and in-person. The innovative work in Lens/Visions and Growing ; pains reminds us that deep connection can be catalyzed in varying ways—allowing us to reflect on our own unpredictable emotions.


This article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Ming Xing's last name.

The Journal regrets the error.

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