by Anna Bratulic
Ceramic sculptures and installations were presented in a year-end exhibit
at the VAV Gallery last week. The works were done by students from four
ceramics classes and were centred around the theme of working with ones
The hand connotation is evident from the title of the exhibit,
The Arch, the Loop and the Whorl, which takes its name from the
three most common types of fingerprints, and, as Professor Thérèse
Chabot explained, that is what makes ceramics different from other arts.
We work with our hands in ceramics because clay is something which
is very tactile, she said. Everything in the gallery for the
exhibit has to do with gesture. Perhaps the same could be said about anything.
Even in technology, in using the computer mouse, we can say were
working with our hands, but the imprint is not there.
The theme of working with
One of the exhibits, titled Making Marks Establishing a System,
consisted of small, irregularly-shaped ceramic structures made by pressing
pliable clay on parts of the body, and then suspending the hardened shapes
in a roughly human pattern from the ceiling. The suspending structures
shadow falls on the adjoining wall where there is a projected image of
Gardening, another distinctly manual activity, was the theme for one of
the larger installations. Open Ground was a series of exhibits
that went from symbolic community gardens consisting of ceramic
objects and other personal items to stretch out into the courtyard of
the Visual Arts Building, where real tulip bulbs were planted.
The garden project stems from Chabots six-credit course on Art,
Nature and the Garden, which included a residency-workshop in the Laurentians
last Thanksgiving. The class collaborated with the Quebec-based contemporary
art and nature group Boréal Art/Nature.
We were there for only three days and each student had to find their
own space, sort of out of the blue, and do something with it, Chabot
said. The ideas that germinated during this excursion were developed throughout
the year and bore fruit in the collective Open Ground project.
In addition to contributing to the garden project, Studio Arts student
Kim Lippert presented an individual work consisting of 21 ceramic urns,
one for each year of her life, containing water and floating locks of
Each urn represents the death of past experiences. Theyre
like boxes that you can put those experiences in to remember them by.
The hair is just to give it a personal touch, said Lippert, whose
hair now extends only to her upper arms, not her hips.
Other exhibits included the interactive project In the Heart of the
Downtown Cultural Business District, a pathway made of large, multi-coloured,
unfired (soft) clay tiles that passersby walked on if they chose to.
Often spectators didnt know whether they ought to walk on the tile
path or walk around it, although the many shoeprints suggest that many
people did so. The idea is to look at receptivity and avoidance on the
part of people walking on busy downtown streets.