Jesse Stewart: Icebreaking

Jesse Stewart: Icebreaking
Franklin Carmichael, Alan Collier, Lawren S. Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Claude Picher, Philip Surrey

February 9 – June 23, 2019
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 9, 2019 | 2 PM - 4 PM

Drawing inspiration from works in the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, Ottawa-based artist Jesse Stewart examines the role of industry on climate change, as well as the related disappearance of ice. 

Artworks from the Firestone Collection highlight industrial activities such as mining and smelting in Ontario’s Great Lakes region, as well as annual icebreaking to clear shipping channels along the St. Lawrence River. Stewart’s work, in turn, seeks to emphasize renewable resources. His use of reclaimed materials, including wood, glass, and plastic, stresses the necessity of upcycling in the face of accelerated toxic manufacturing and consumer consumption. 

Reflecting on the global ramifications of local pollution, Stewart also looks to melting glaciers and polar ice caps. Depictions of northern landscapes from the Firestone Collection have been paired with Glacialis (2010-19), a video of Stewart using percussive instruments made of ice. We feel a sense of urgency and ephemerality as it becomes evident that Stewart’s music will end when the instruments melt. As we currently sit at an environmental tipping point, it is necessary to contemplate the reverberations of our collective and individual actions on the local ecology in the age of the Anthropocene.

Firestone Reverb is a series of exhibitions in which contemporary artists engage with the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art. The OAG houses and presents this collection through changing exhibitions that highlight its breadth and diversity.

Image: Jesse Stewart, Glacialis, 2010-2019, still from single-channel video projection. Courtesy of the Artist. 
Click here to listen to an audio clip of Glacialis


Jesse Stewart is an award-winning composer, percussionist, visual artist, instrument builder, educator, and community activist. His audio-visual installation-based work crosses disciplinary boundaries, exploring the link between the visual and the sonic arts. He mainly composes for percussion, found objects and instruments of his own design. He is an active performer, and has facilitated dozens of inclusive music and art workshops throughout Canada and internationally. He is currently a professor at Carleton University’s School for Studies in Art and Culture and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa.