This is water: Emerging Practices in Contemporary Art

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© Courtesy of Southern Alberta Art Gallery
This is water: Emerging Practices in Contemporary Art

601 Third Avenue South
T1J 0H4 Lethbridge
April 26th, 2015 - June 7th, 2015
Opening: April 26th, 2015 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM

403 327 8770
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sat 10-5; Thu 10-7; Sun 1-5


Sponsored by Pratt & Whitney

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning boys, how's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

Ten years ago David Foster Wallace delivered his, now famous, commencement address to the graduating class at Kenyon College.  Committing to the conventions of the genre, he opened with the parable of fish in water.  Not intending to take on the role of the older fish expounding on the meaning of water, he instead urged students to consider the following: the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.

It is here the artist resides, living in the exploration of the unseen, difficult, mundane, grand, or completely banal; where the sometimes muddy day-in, day-out is dissected, studied, manipulated, observed and documented.  For emerging artists at the University of Lethbridge, the experience of being in art school is immediate and ever-present; it is the daily experience that binds them together despite their wildly divergent interests and aspirations. 

A current work by MFA student Megan Morman draws on the specific physical and mental space of the U of L Art Department.  Titled Congratulations!, this large scale maze playfully challenges participants to navigate their way through their MFA degrees, the object of the game: leave the building at the end of the day.  Cleverly disarming participants with humour and play, Morman shines light on the uncelebrated aspects of student life.  Another artist, Dylan Dobbie, takes humour to the point of the absurd, as he obsessively explores the 375 permutations of a two-syllable name.  Katie Bruce, a former U of L graduate now pursuing her MFA at York University, also finds significance in repetition, continually documenting the compositional variations of her folded handkerchief.  Finally, MFA candidate Roy Caussy's move to Lethbridge proved significant, allowing space for his perceptions of masculinity and otherness to shift.  Employing cultural, and political symbols combined with memories and personal experience, Caussy carefully directs our attention to charged issues such as race, sexuality, displacement and masculinity.

Whether looking outward to global issues or inward to the objects in their pockets, the artists in this exhibition move through their experience in art school, invariably reminding us: This is water, This is water...

Artists in this exhibition include: William Austin, Katie Bruce, Roy Caussy, Makaila Cline, Dylan Dobbie, Shona Fitz-Gerald Laing, Sam Loewen, Megan Morman, Elena Petzold and Potluck City.

This is water is organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in conjunction with the Allied Arts Council of Lethbridge's Soar: Emerging Artist Festival, and is curated by Morgan Bath and Christina Cuthbertson.  We would like to thank the University of Lethbridge Fine Art Department for their support of this exhibition.  Funding assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the City of Lethbridge.

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