Cal Lane remembers watching her grandmother bake cupcakes, covering them with paper doilies and sifting icing sugar on top to create a decorative lace pattern. An endearing memory from her childhood, it is revealing of the cultural inheritance she brings to her practice. Decades later, this nostalgic moment is echoed in Lane’s series Powdered Tires, in which large car tires have been similarly dusted with powdered lace designs and stand upright in the gallery. The impermanence, delicacy and frivolity of the sugar stand in stark contrast to the firm practicality and mobility of the tires marrying utilitarian and domestic production while upturning masculine and feminine conventions.
Contrast is integral to Lane’s sculpture, as evident in Sweet Crude, where raw industrial objects from jerry cans to 45-gallon oil drums are incised with ornate and intricate imagery. From the immediacy of this unexpected juxtaposition the viewer is compelled to linger through further oppositions - hard and soft, strong and fragile, masculine and feminine, fine art and craft, inside and outside, ancient and contemporary. Equally present in the work are layers of political, economic, historic and allegorical narrative. Consider the exhibition’s title: “Sweet Crude” refers to that most sought-after form of petroleum, at once a source of treasured conveniences and the grim catalyst of international conflict, economic collapse and environmental distress. Lane’s cuttings of world maps evoke both war room computer monitors and historical colonial maps where corporations and governments alike divvy up territories for global domination. Yet, one also finds religious symbols, heraldry, suburban houses, pastoral scenes and mythological trysts transforming the maps into tapestries and making any interpretation of its tangled iconography seductively elusive.
Born in 1968 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Cal Lane was raised in Saanichton, British Columbia. Following her welding certification, she completed a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in 2001, and a MFA from the State University of New York at Purchase (2005). Since 2001, Lane has exhibited her work nationally and internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including shows at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (2002-03), the Textile Museum of Canada (2006), the Museum of Art and Design (New York, 2007), Musea Brugge (Belgium, 2008) and the DeCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts (2008-10). Shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award in 2004, she has been the recipient of several awards and distinctions, including the Emerging Artist Fellowship and residency at the Socrates Sculpture Park (New York, 2006) and the Joseph S. Stauffer Prize (2007).