Carleton University Art Gallery CUAG


02 April – 30 August 2020

Hello, friends! We miss you! And we hope you are keeping safe. While CUAG is closed, we are keen to stay connected with you and to continue amplifying the work of artists.

We’ll periodically send you a #cuagrevisit digital feature, whether video, audio, photographs, some reading, or other media.

#cuagrevisit takes another look at some of our previous exhibitions, connects with artists and cultural activists, and highlights the ways that artists offer direction, reflection and inspiration during tough times.

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We are grateful for the support of the Reesa Greenberg Digital Initiatives Fund.

#cuagrevisit on Friday 7 August

Hello, friends! For this edition of #cuagrevisit we’re dropping in on Linda Sormin, who is based in New York City. Linda is a sculptor and installation artist who works primarily with clay. In 2018, Sormin created Fierce Passengers, an extraordinary site-responsive ceramic exhibition in CUAG’s high gallery, while in residence over the course of two weeks. 

Fierce Passengers explored uncertainty, risk and survival, and precarious and fragile structures. In this video, Sormin discusses the process of imagining and producing the exhibition, talks about her use of local Leda clay, and shares her thoughts about how we navigate upheaval and what we hold onto and long for during experiences of change.

More recently, Sormin has been making both small and large works, from a series of watercolours and ceramic sculptures (currently on view at Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco) to a long work on paper, made with watercolour. 

Linda writes of this work: “It rolls from my kitchen, down some steps, into the living room. I’m painting both sides of the paper—familiar abstract gestures collide with new imagery of an old story of my great great grandfather, a Batak shaman who confronted ruthless colonialism in Indonesia. The intimate scale of objects and life contained at home is pulled taut with the urgency and commitment to stand publicly in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.”

#cuagrevisit reflects the strength, creativity and resilience of the community, while we are “being apart, together,” as the artist Aislinn Thomas has said.

With that in mind, we invited Linda to highlight some community organizations. Here are her choices:

One Spark: Provides barrier-free opportunities for women experiencing violence to generate income through entrepreneurship.

Rainbow Railroad: Provides solutions for LGBTQI people who need immediate assistance because they are facing a serious threat to their lives and safety.

Youth Line: Offers confidential, non-judgmental LGBTTQQ2SI peer support through telephone, text and chat services.

Black Lives Matter Canada: The Canadian chapter of #BlackLivesMatter, an international organization and movement fighting police and state violence and anti-Black racism.

Thank you to Linda Sormin! The Sormin video was produced by Chris Ikonomopoulous in 2018 and incorporates photographs by Clarence Sormin and Justin Wonnacott.

#cuagrevisit on Friday 24 July

Hello, friends! We are working with Carleton University on our reopening plan and will bring you news soon. This edition of #cuagrevisit updates you on the wonderful exhibitions we had planned to present this summer. These exhibitions are: Laura Taler: THREE SONGS; Steve Giasson as Others / Steve Giasson commes les autres and Family Matters. We have rescheduled these exhibitions to winter 2021 and look forward to bringing them to you.

Laura Taler: THREE SONGS
In a series of three ambitious new video installations, Laura Taler grapples with questions raised by experiences of migration. Laura says: I am so looking forward to sharing THREE SONGS with you. Creating the works and preparing for the exhibition has been truly transformative. Most simply, I learned to sing! Rediscovering my voice, both literally and metaphorically, has shown me how much is possible when you are surrounded by kindness and generosity.

Steve Giasson as Others / Steve Giasson commes les autres
Steve Giasson’s conceptual work builds on pre-existing artworks, appropriating them in order to undermine his position as author. Selon Steve: Je vois l’art comme une « activité dialogique ». Si on peut considérer une exposition comme une mise en scène, la galerie d’art de l’Université Carleton (CUAG) en sera la scène. Cette exposition soulève les questions « À quoi je joue? » et « Quelle comédie jouons-nous? ». J’ai hâte d’entamer ce dialogue avec vous.  Steve says: I call art a “dialogical activity.” If an exhibition can be a “mise-en-scène,” then the gallery will be its stage. With this exhibition, I will reflect on the comedy that I’m acting out, and the comedy that we will be acting in together. I look forward to having this dialogue with you.

Family Matters
This exhibition explores the many ways that artists approach and represent ideas of connectedness, kinship, community and belonging. It features the work of Evergon, George Hawken, Suzy Lake, Jane Martin, David Neel, Leslie Reid, Michael Schreier and Jeff Thomas, as well as unknown 19th-century photographers, all selected from CUAG’s collection. It is curated by students enrolled this past winter in a Curatorial Studies graduate seminar at Carleton University, taught by Professor Stéphane Roy.

#cuagrevisit on Thursday 9 July

Hello, friends! This edition of #cuagrevisit connects with artists and cultural activists in the Ottawa-Gatineau community. We’re introducing a summer series called #ProjectsandPastimes, hosted on CUAG’s Instagram.

#ProjectsandPastimes profiles Ottawa-Gatineau creative folks that CUAG has worked with on past public programs. Their days and artistic practices have shifted during this time. We asked them to send us news of projects they’ve worked on recently at home, or in the past, with collaborators. We’re excited to share their updates with you!

You can find #ProjectsandPastimes in the highlights of our Instagram profile. There, you’ll see updates from Matt Miwa, a theatre, video and performance artist, and Elsa Mirzaei, the founder and producer of DIY Spring, a futurist music festival. The most recent edition follows filmmaker and artist Howard Adler, who is working on longterm projects and rethinking how friends and communities gather in digital spaces.

Follow the series on @CUArtGallery. There are more editions to come!

#cuagrevisit on Friday 25 June

Hello, friends! We’re dropping in on Gatineau-based artist Annie Thibault this week for #cuagrevisit.

In preparation for her fall 2017 solo exhibition, La chambre des cultures, foraging in time and space, Annie Thibault was artist-in-residence at Carleton’s biology department for one year. With the generous collaboration of Dr. Myron Smith, a biology professor, Annie cultivated Armillaria gallica (honey mushrooms), working with the fungi as living organisms and as artistic agents.  

This video shows Annie using the lab as a site for experimentation, underscoring affinities between creative and research in scientific and artistic processes and crossing the boundaries separating art and science. 

Annie is now in the research phase of a new project, Les Radieuses, which explores how fungi function in an environmental disaster event. As she says, “Véritables emblèmes de résilience, ils participent à la bioremédiation de l’environnement, à la décomposition et à la régénération des sols.”

#cuagrevisit reflects the strength, creativity and resilience of the community, while we are “being apart, together,” as the artist Aislinn Thomas has said. With that in mind, we invited Annie to highlight some community organizations. Here are her choices:

AXENÉO7: An artist-run centre in Gatineau dedicating to advocating, promoting and exhibiting the visual arts, while developing critical discourse around them.

DAÏMŌN: An artist run-centre in Gatineau that supports research-creation, production and dissemination of media arts.

Thank you to Annie Thibault! The video was produced by Phil Rose in 2017. Annie’s residency was supported by the Department of Biology at Carleton University, le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and la région de l’Outaouais.

#cuagrevisit on Friday 12 June

Hello, friends! For this sixth edition of #cuagrevisit, we invited Kwende Kefentse (DJ Memetic) to create a response to They Forgot That We Were Seeds.

Curated by Kosisochukwu Nnebe, They Forgot That We Were Seeds uses foodways to reimagine the history of Canada as a settler-colonial state, placing Black and Indigenous women artists at the centre of efforts to construct a counter-archive. It features the work of artists KC Adams, Deanna Bowen, Roxana Farrell, Bushra Junaid, Amy Malbeuf, Meryl McMaster, Cheyenne Sundance and Katherine Takpannie.

In the video response, Kwende spins 45s from his parents’ record collection. We invite you to watch the video and read this text by Kwende. 

Kwende writes: “They say that for a plant to grow, you need water, sun, soil and seed. The island known as Barbados was blessed with all these things in abundance. Unfortunately, once the British realised this, they did what colonisers do and, through the slave trade, established a rapacious and exploitative sugar industry that fuelled their empire.

Somewhere back there is where the journey of my genes on this side of the world begins. My parents are both from Barbados—born and raised. As were their parents. You don’t have to go much further back to see my ancestors in artist Bushra Junaid’s lightbox works, Sweet Childhood and Two Pretty Girls.

The sugar that my ancestors’ hands harvested has created a connection between my roots in Barbados and the place I would eventually be born in Canada, when the original people of this place were displaced and given rations of sugar as part of their new lives. This material and metaphorical connection through colonialism is something that made intuitive sense, but Kosisochukwu Nnebe’s They Forgot That We Were Seeds gave me the opportunity to fully reflect on that connection as a first generation Canadian. Thanks to Kosi for remembering and reminding.

The music I present here in response is meant to honour the generation that made this connection more than a metaphor, and actually immigrated to unfamiliar and often hostile places to make a new way. To plant Caribbean seeds in Canadian soil. These are some of the records that my late father brought with him from Barbados as he made a new life and identity here in Canada with my mom. These material pieces of culture—and the intangible but palpable vibes they embody—connected where my parents were going and where they came from. The records trace the root back to the seed.”

#cuagrevisit reflects the diversity, strength, creativity and resilience of the community, while we are “being apart, together,” as the artist Aislinn Thomas has said. With that in mind, we invited Kwende to highlight some community organizations. Here are his choices:

Justice for Abdirahman: An Ottawa-based coalition whose objective is to obtain greater transparency, challenge racial inequity, and bring positive change in order to secure justice for the late Abdirahman Abdi and his family. 

Produced by Youth: A grassroots organization launching a music production workshop for Black youth in Ottawa dedicated to creating a safe space to explore creativity and collaboration, and build confidence.

Thank you to Kwende Kefentse! He is a multimedia producer, Cultural Industries Development Officer at the City of Ottawa, and a member of CUAG’s Advisory Board. He co-founded TIMEKODE and DJs as Memetic.

#cuagrevisit on Thursday 28 May

For this fifth edition of #cuagrevisit, we’re celebrating the recent release of Kinàmàgawin (Learning Together), the final report of Carleton University’s Strategic Indigenous Initiatives Committee. Kinàmàgawin features 41 Carleton-specific Calls to Action, unified by the goal of making the campus a safer space for current and future Indigenous students, staff and faculty.  

Kinàmàgawin opens with beautiful words by Barbara Dumont-Hill, a Knowledge Keeper from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg. “We are all connected,” she writes, “and when we can learn together with open minds and open hearts, the outlook will be brighter.” 

In 2017, a group of Carleton University students learned how to make a wigwàs chiman (birchbark canoe) together, under the guidance of Daniel “Pinock” Smith, an artist and canoe builder, and Paul “Mini” Stevens, from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg. This was a project of the Centre for Indigenous Initiatives and CUAG.

The canoe was built at CUAG, tested on Lac Bitobi at Kitigan Zibi and later installed in MacOdrum Library. Its installation on campus highlights the forms of collaborative learning that have existed on this territory, long before Carleton was founded.

Here is a short time-lapse video of the canoe-building process.

In an eloquent article about the experience of helping to build the canoe, Alexandra Kahsenni:io Nahwegahbow wrote: “Beyond what we learned to create with our hands, this work offered us lessons in humility, patience and the value of multiple forms of knowledge.” 

CUAG looks forward to supporting Kinàmàgawin and its powerful Calls to Action, and to creating opportunities to learn together.

#cuagrevisit on Thursday 14 May

In 2017, to celebrate the gallery’s 25th anniversary and Carleton University’s 75th anniversary, we commissioned a series of pop-up performances by Jesse Stewart, an award-winning musician, sound artist, community builder and Carleton music professor.  

For his “Turning the Tables” performance at CUAG, Jesse set up multiple record players converted into kinetic sound sculptures. Visitors interacted with the installation, changing the volume and speed of each turntable in a co-creative improvisatory musical performance. 

Check out the video of Jesse’s performance, produced by Hasi Eldib.

Jesse recently embarked on a daily video series, posting his performances on Facebook. He explored a variety of unusual percussion instruments and musical found objects, including seashells, canoe paddles, a cardboard box and kitchen paraphernalia.

As Jesse says, “I have connected with musicians, music educators and artist from all over the world. This experience has reminded me of the power of the arts to facilitate friendship and foster community, something we need now more than ever.”

#cuagrevisit reflects the diversity, strength, creativity and resilience of the community, while we are “being apart, together,” as the artist Aislinn Thomas has said. With that in mind, we invited Jesse to highlight some community organizations. Here are his choices:

Propeller Dance: A contemporary integrated dance company that celebrates diverse minds and bodies.

Artengine: An organization that presents, promotes and supports technologically-based artistic creation.

Thank you to Jesse Stewart and Hasi Eldib. The video was produced by Hasi Eldib, and generously supported by Carleton University, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. 

#cuagrevisit on Thursday 30 April

This week, we’ll revisit a work by Émilie Monnet, commissioned for the winter 2019 exhibition Re: Working Together / Re : Travailler ensemble, co-produced with and co-presented at Galerie UQO. Émilie created an audio work centred on the Kichi Sibi (Ottawa River) in collaboration with Pinock Smith, a renowned canoe maker from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg.

Ninóswáhadón Sibi (I follow the river) weaves together conversations between Émilie and Pinock, as well as her field recordings from the Kichi Sibi. 

Émilie sent us an update on a recent performance she co-produced with Waira Nina, an Inga sound artist and her longtime collaborator. The performance took place at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota on 18 February 2020.

Produced from the intersection of sound installation, performance art and documentary theatre, NigamOnTunai gives voice to women’s roles in the protection of water, in response to ongoing natural resource extraction on Turtle Island and the Amazon in Colombia. In “Resonant Signals,” a recent article in Canadian Art, Joni Low reflects on Émilie’s work, and on NigamOnTunai

#cuagrevisit reflects the diversity, strength, creativity and resilience of the community, while we are “being apart, together,” as the artist Aislinn Thomas has said. With that in mind, we invited Émilie to highlight some community organizations. Here are her choices:

Minwaashin Lodge: Serves First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and children in Ottawa.

Projets autochtones du Québec: Serves First Nations, Inuit and Métis people who are homeless or in situations of difficulty.

Thank you to Émilie Monnet. Ninóswáhádon Sibi (I follow the river) was commissioned by CUAG and GUQO in partnership with DAÏMÔN and Transistor Media, with support from Carleton University, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and the Reesa Greenberg Digital Initiatives Fund. Sound editing and mixing by Pascal Desjardins. 

#cuagrevisit on Thursday 16 April

This week, we revisit a video about the artist Norman Takeuchi, who moved from Vancouver to Ottawa in 1963.

Norman speaks eloquently about his installation work, A Measured Act (2006), which was featured in Sites of Memory: Legacies of the Japanese Canadian Internment. This exhibition was curated by Emily Putnam and presented at CUAG in the autumn of 2019.

In the video, Norman talks about the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II, and reflects on that history and its influence on his work as an artist, in the present.

Right now, Norman is spending his days in the studio, where, he says, “My scrutiny of the Japanese Canadian theme continues to evolve. It’s early days for this new approach but it looks promising.”

#cuagrevisit reflects the diversity, strength, creativity and resilience of the community, while we are “being apart, together,” as the artist Aislinn Thomas has said. With that in mind, we invited Norman to highlight some community organizations. Here are his choices:

Community Foundation of Ottawa: The COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund supports urgent issues, particularly those being experienced disproportionately within vulnerable sectors.

Ottawa Food Bank: Provides fresh and non-perishable food, and such items as diapers, toiletries and cleaning supplies, to its network of over 100 emergency food programs in Ottawa.

National Arts Centre: #CanadaPerforms is a $700,000 short-term relief fund that pays professional Canadian artists and professionally published authors for their online performances.

Thank you to Norman Takeuchi, interviewer Katie Lydiatt and videographer Chris Ikonomopoulos. The video was produced with the generous support of the Reesa Greenberg Digital Initiatives Fund, Carleton University, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

#cuagrevisit on Friday 3 April

The Brooklyn-based artist Shannon Finnegan makes work about disability culture and access. In February, Shannon created an audio tour of her exhibition, Lone Proponent of Wall-to-Wall Carpet.

The audio tour is a non-visual option for experiencing and revisiting Shannon’s exhibition. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on how Shannon envisions embedding care within communities. Aislinn Thomas explores similar themes in a recent Akimblog article, “Disability, Creativity, and Care in the Time of COVID-19.”

We invite you to listen to Shannon’s audio tour (with or without the installation photographs) and read Aislinn Thomas’s article. These artists encourage us to imagine and enact ways of working and being together.

We hope that #cuagrevisit reflects the diversity, strength, creativity and resiliency of the community, while we are “being apart, together,” as Aislinn Thomas has said.

With that in mind, here are some community organizations that are doing vital advocacy and capacity-building work in accessibility.

AMI Accessible Media Inc.: This media organization believes in an inclusive society in which media is accessible to all Canadians.

Welcome to My World: This CKCU radio show aims to change the conversation and views about disability. Hosted by Kim Kilpatrick and Shelley Ann Morris and Daniel Bourret.

BEING Studio: This Ottawa studio supports artists with developmental disabilities who work in visual art and creative writing.

Thank you to Shannon Finnegan. We are grateful for the support of the Reesa Greenberg Digital Initiatives Fund.

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