Four distinct visions in MFA show

MFA Thesis Exhibition
Visual Arts Building
University of Victoria Campus
Until May 11, 2013

Reviewed by  Dorothy June Fraser

Any kind of graduate show is going to be an interesting experience. Wandering from gallery to gallery requires a degree of care, as we shake off the intensity of one show in order to see the next. Overall, it becomes an interesting and transformational experience.

Yang Liu’s exhibit, All the Little Things You Left Behind, is built on small pieces, constructions of home and life and the little things that come to represent lived experience. He takes tiny objects and then rearranges these bits of life into larger forms, which he then photographs. The end result is a show that evokes both the architecture of daily life and the values that define culture. The divide between memory and object, construction and composition are present and at odds within Liu’s work.

Hilary Knutson’s Au Secours, drew me in as soon as I set foot in the room. Her approach included cross-stitch, needle-point and screen-printed fabrics, woven together with her virtual presence in the gallery via video. I loved the connection to feminist fibre and craft work that she invoked within the concrete studio setting. The inclusion of chronic pain gave voice to the  physical suffering that comes with art making and is rarely addressed in spaces which we associate with the “artist.”  By providing an alternative to the cold studio space, we see her personal workspace as productive and comforting, subverting the idea that there is one correct model of studio space.

Inside the Outside, despite an innocuous title, succeeds on several different aesthetic levels. Artist Chris Lindsay explores texture and structure as a means of conveying personal experiences. A constructed landscape forces the viewer to a supplicant’s role, stepping over the steel wires that hang on the ground. Across the hall is the sound installation of Lindsay’s that instantly spoke of individual experience within a larger network, reception of information and a larger interaction than the singular human experience.

Lindsay’s fabricated silk thread sculptures are painstakingly crafted: he strings several hundred silk threads through wooden forms to create a dazzling prismatic effect. All of Lindsay’s work vibrates, reminding viewers that frequencies differ between every individual person, every standpoint.

Paola Savasta uses sculptural forms to play with the space of the in-between where 3D objects need 2D representation and vice-versa in her show, The Heir. The sense of play necessary to cover a stool in a bathmat or faux fur provided an intriguing and surprising use of textiles that drew attention to expectations of these objects in daily experience. Soft, faux-fur lined cubicle shelf constructions of The Heir repudiate hard, Minimalist sculptural qualities. In a totally different aesthetic expression, her small end tables and 3D paintings patterned with colourful plaid build sculptures from everyday purposeful, flat surfaces. I think that Savasta’s work questions authority, experience and expectations of objects in the gallery space.

The visual arts students’ works provoke a questioning of everyday existence and suggest the possible (in)sufficiency of spatial reasoning to explain our surroundings.

Dorothy June Fraser is an MA History in Art student at UVic and the online gallery curator for Plenitude Magazine.