What do you get when you mix a passionate curator, 28 artists, 12 types of media, and a public space? An accessible art exhibit that showcases the breadth of artistic talent in Huntsville and Muskoka. And there’s a lot of it – more than there is space for in this show.
Armed with only the title of the exhibit – Out of This World, a theme that is open to interpretation – artists were asked to submit pieces that they felt would fit. “It’s a broad title. Is it something that’s awesome? Something from this world? Or from outside of it? There aren’t a lot of limitations that way. I approached artists I knew and put out open calls and got an amazing response,” said Kelly Holinshead, local photographer and the exhibit’s curator. “I didn’t expect so many submissions and I wasn’t able to accept all of them.”
Next came the hard work of deciding which artworks to include, a process Holinshead admits she found difficult. “I wanted to include as many as possible, especially the newer artists. It was hard. I had to sit and decide which ones looked like strong pieces on their own and what I thought would work well to bring them together over all.”
The result is an interesting and eclectic collection of subject matter and media with more than 28 pieces adorning the walls and spaces in the Canada Summit Centre. The media represented include painting (oil, watercolour, acrylic), charcoal, bronze sculpture, mixed media sculpture, ceramics and pottery, steelwork, glass, fibre art (recycled fibre and hand-dyed loom-woven), egg tempura, photography, wood turning, and linocut print-making from both familiar names and new ones.
“We have this photographer (Elspeth Wood) who does lunar prints on photographic paper. She uses a large format negative and does contact printing by moonlight. It’s sort of incomprehensible. And there’s sculpture that incorporates fossils and petrified wood. And a large-scale charcoal portrait. There’s all kinds of really different stuff. I’m really excited,” said Holinshead.
Corrie Turner is one of the new local artists – she moved to Huntsville in 2014 from British Columbia – included in the exhibit. She’s both a photographer and a mixed media artist, but her love is for charcoal. “I first used it in an art class in grade nine and I found the experience of using my fingers to do the smudging very natural and elemental. You’re directly connecting with the burnt earth in your hands on the surface of the paper. I found I’d get lost in the experience of blending the charcoal on the paper. It’s a little bit intimidating because it’s so intense to look at but when you learn how to work with it, it’s very satisfying. There’s no separation between artist and canvas. There’s something very raw in the experience of charcoal.”
“I’m a big nature girl. That’s my passion. I’m an environmental educator professionally and as a form of art, charcoal is a great way to feel connected. For years I’ve been encouraged to do something with my art and I decided to get my feet wet with exposure in Muskoka. I put a lot of feeling and energy into a piece and I hope that’s what people see.” You can see Turner’s charcoal portrait “Into the Soul” at the exhibit.
Katie Morton is a new young artist who is just beginning to amass a body of work outside of a school setting. She went to school in Huntsville and would go to the Summit Centre to see the exhibits on display. Morton thought it was an interesting use of the space and wanted to one day have her own work shown there, so when she saw the call for submissions, she jumped at the chance. Her acrylic on watercolour paper painting, Snake Charmer, will be displayed at the show.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve been interested in art making. It’s the only path I’ve ever desired. This exhibit is a refreshing idea and the theme is more up my alley in terms of artistic style – I don’t fit into the Group of Seven-esque approach.
Mixed media artist, Katie Morton, a new OCAD grad
Part of what makes this exhibit, and others like it at the Canada Summit Centre, so successful is it’s accessibility. It’s a feature that Morton appreciates. “I’ve always wanted my art to be approachable. I want it to be something that people don’t feel intimidated by and instead feel like it’s something they can relate to. I think the show has that feeling over all, especially in the space that it’s in. It’s so welcoming.”
The Out of This World opening reception is Thursday, November 19 from 5:00-7:00pm with opening remarks from Holinshead and Mayor Scott Aitchison at 6:00pm. Most of the artists will also be there to give attendees the opportunity to speak to them about their work.
“It’s an impressive and remarkable collection of talent,” said Holinshead. “You just need to come and see it.” The exhibit runs from November 19, 2015 to February 15, 2016.
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