In the Making
May 16 - 26, 2019
Sarah Cousineau, Julie Fletcher, Henry Hong, Alixe Hysert, Analisa Kiskis, Amanda Lloyd, Karen Lu, Suzan Ozkul, Debbie Ratcliffe and Jake Riseborough
Curated by Rose Ekins
In the Making comprises a selection of work from ten artists from BEING Studio, a community of artists with developmental disabilities working in visual arts and creative writing. This exhibition is a culmination of the In the Making project wherein, over the span of several months, five regional artists visited the studio to provide the collective with workshops on printmaking, photography, assemblage sculpture, ceramics, and storytelling. The resulting artwork, borne out of a collective experience of sharing knowledge and supporting expression through the arts, explores notions of selfhood and identity from distinctive and sometimes surprising perspectives.
Created from instruction by printmaker Melanie Yugo, BEING artists Karen Lu and Alixe Hysert’s artwork explore creatures both human and animal using minimal and expressive line work. Lu’s bird and Hysert’s faces capture moments frozen in time, glimpses into otherwise hidden narratives. Photo-based artist Rosalie Favell encouraged artists in her photography workshops to use the medium to express their “superhero” identities. Artist Julie Fletcher presents herself as a “daredevil” in her work, proudly posing by a dirt bike, while Jake Riseborough explores notions of age as a “Super Baby,” an ongoing series of the artist’s. Sarah Cousineau’s interpretation of Snow White sees her in a forest communing with animals, inserting herself as the heroine of the fairy tale.
Sculptures made from found objects and materials were introduced by mixed media artist Marisa Gallemit, represented here by the work of Julie Fletcher, Henry Hong and Suzan Ozkul. Fletcher’s sculpture, a hot air balloon work explores space and weight with its juxtaposing width and depth. Hong’s intricate application of various textures and patterns invites the viewer into a closer inspection, while Ozkul’s material approach commands both space and attention. Ceramics workshops led by ceramic artist Paula Murray introduced traditional clay working techniques, illustrated in the exhibition by BEING artists Jake Riseborough and Jenny Francis. The subtle imprinted patterns of Francis’ asymmetrical column is contrasted by Riseborough’s bold, textural approach. Ottawa storyteller Kim Kilpatrick’s workshop engaged artists Debbie Ratcliffe and Analisa Kiskis to reflect on their personal narratives. Ratcliffe elaborates on her role as the “mother of all dragons” in her dreams as a protector and caretaker of the mythical creatures, while Kiskis reflects on living life with hearing difficulties, juxtaposed by exploring her favourite sounds and love of singing.
A mixture of themes and concepts are explored by the artists, the most prominent of which being that of identity and environment. Several artists in the exhibition employ an undeniably positive approach to their art, like in Julie Fletcher’s “daredevil” self depiction, while others draw upon deeper and perhaps darker undercurrents, such as in Jake Riseborough’s “Super Baby,” which sees him as an adult baby, bringing to mind the infantilization of adults. Both Debbie Ratcliffe and Analisa Kiskis describe moments of anger, loss, and frustration in their stories. Yet, in all of the artwork created through the In the Making project, nowhere exists representations of helplessness or lack of agency. In Riseborough’s photographic work, for instance, he has not depicted himself a dependant or vulnerable child, instead embracing his “adult baby” superhero identity. Similarly, all the artwork made through this project appear celebratory, a free expression of unique perspectives, created in the communal environment of the project.
This exhibition was made possible due to support from:
City of Ottawa, Ontario Arts Council and the Ottawa Community Foundation.
Sarah Cousineau loves to draw, paint and make projects. She is inspired by music, movies, dancing and her fellow artists. She loves writing in her notebook. When people see her paintings she feels happy, she feels her emotions smiling. She experiences exploring.
Julie Fletcher: I love being an artist. I have been here at BEING studio for many years. I enjoy my life. I share my stories. We connect. I love what we do here for a living. We’re artists. We share our life, our music. I paint my life. I use my imagination, things that come to my mind. I create my dreams, my paintings. I love to hang out with my friends. Here in the studio our life is more important. We share our life. I love to grow and learn new things in our life—our dreams, our goals, our hopes. We are flexible and open our minds. We share our feelings. What we have is more than our feelings that come out. We share our emotions. We’re famous artists and we are professional. We express our feelings and our emotions and our thoughts. We are artists, best friends, and we don’t do our paintings for nothing.
Henry Hong: I think I am someone special. Maybe I am a superstar. I am smart. If we’re all going to die why die now? I like the dark night, the black night. I’m alive not dead. Through drawing and thinking I express myself. Are you afraid to die? Art brings life.
Alixe Hysert: Black. Wow people. I like dark dark brown. I like brown cows. I like dark dark colours. Brown cows at the farm. A horse. A cow. A pig. A duck.
Analisa Kiskis is a professional artist. Her art revolves around her self, her sense of self and her identity. She is searching for an art world to belong to in the real world. She paints with her soul and spirit. She is always trying new things. She is always trying to tell her story.
Amanda Lloyd: I paint abstract paintings. I scrape and rub and dab and layer. I like pattern and line and texture. I paint Cinderella.
Karen Lu likes paint. She likes the painter. She likes sewing. She likes the butterfly. She likes the sketchbook. She likes art class. She likes script. She like teachers. She likes the rainbow. She likes it here.
Suzan Ozkul is in love. She loves her art. She likes shapes in shapes, text, colour and patterns. Her art is incredible and beautiful. She is an amazing artist. She is not nervous. She is relaxed. She likes everything. She likes good things.
Debbie Ratcliffe: We want a new vision. We want to amp it up. Colours of the world. Hear our roar. We are the queens and kings of colour. Come and see us. We love art. We’ve got a disability, but what of it? We are sisters here in the spiritual way. To have a career in art means to meet people, have a studio and art shows. Our destiny is our work, and to go out in the public making speeches. We’re part of a puzzle that got slipped into place. Here we are not a club, we are individuals with a passion for art. We demand that what we paint is real and true no matter who creates it. We are bold in the creation. We do love our work. We were put on this earth for a purpose. We are putting our own mark on the world. I am an artist.
Jake Riseborough is a painter and sculptor based in Ottawa ON. His recent series of works includes Bratty Princesses and Kings, Adult Babies go to Work, and Super Babies. He works with intense energy, pausing frequently to look. He wants those who experience his work to feel like children again. The print on display in In the Making is part of the Super Babies series.
Rose Ekins is an arts professional currently based in Ottawa. Ekins graduated with a Masters of Art History with specialization in Art Exhibition and Curatorial Practices from Carleton University in 2016. Ekins works as Director of EYE BUY ART, as an independent curator and arts writer, and as a member of the Board for artist-run centre SAW.
IMAGE: Henry Hong, Portuguese Man of War, 2019, bicycle inner tubes, corduroy, felt, wool, dimensions varied
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