The Blackwood Gallery is continuing its celebration of student artwork, having unveiled the second half of the annual graduating students’ exhibition, Up One Side + Down the Other, last week.

Featuring artwork by more than 30 students graduating from UTM’s art and art history program, Up One Side + Down the Other uses both the main Blackwood space and the CCT Building’s e|gallery to exhibit the diverse works. The first half of the exhibition was on display earlier this month, and now the second half of the grads get their time in the spotlight.

Unlike many of the exhibitions the Blackwood Gallery features throughout the year, there isn’t a thematic thread running throughout the exhibition. Instead, each student is able to express their own worldview and artistic vision however they like. This results in a diversity of mediums and themes; visitors to the Blackwood Gallery will experience paintings, sculpture, textiles, video installations, and more when they step inside. The unspoken “anything goes” statement results in a collection that may feel a little chaotic to some, but that, if anything, celebrates that art can be found in so many different forms.

Walking into the Blackwood Gallery, several pieces instantly caught my eye, but none more than one of the exhibition’s largest contributions, Sam Hanrath’s “Attention (tent)”. Occupying a good portion of the gallery’s back corner, the tent is made of paper held together by long strips of duct tape, and it doesn’t look especially glamorous from the outside. But as the viewer gets closer, they notice a message scrawled on the exterior, reading, “Attention: please doodle on me. Sincerely, the artist.” And indeed, a folded-back flap invites visitors to enter the tent, the inside of which is covered with cartoony scrawls and doodles. It also provides markers so visitors can add their own contributions, and a pillow—presumably to add that nice homey touch. It’s dizzying and a little claustrophobic, but there’s something strangely appealling about it, and during the exhibition’s opening reception there was a nearly constant stream of visitors admiring and contributing to the tent.

 Slightly less conspicuous is Natasha Genevieve’s “Seven”, an evocative oil painting that hangs on the gallery’s back wall. The woozy image of a cascading waterfall is arresting, inviting the viewer to stop and admire each meticulous line of colour. Similarly, detail is key in Laurel Whalen’s untitled sculptures, which combine Rhoplex and organic material to create delightfully jagged little creations that sit in the middle of the gallery.

Different pieces will speak to different viewers, and overall the skill on display in Up One Side + Down the Other is impressive. My favourite piece is Laura Krick’s “Non-Street”, a series of three oil paintings on wood tucked away in the e|gallery. The images depict nighttime scenes of an eerily deserted small-town street, and all three feature cars, streetlamps, and a distinct tan and navy palette. I found Krick’s style effectively minimalistic, lending her images a unique Midwestern feel. Her work subtly raises questions and allows the viewer to imagine their own backstory about just who might live in such a desolate town.

The other student artists featured in the second half of Up One Side + Down the Other are Sam Abel, Yu Chen, Liz Secord-Gibbs, Laurène Guarneri, Andrew Ihamaki, Olga Klosowski, Adriana Lychacz, Tanya Masson, Katelyn Noyes, Dasom Park, Natasha Ritchie, Breanna Shanahan, and Christina Trutiak. The exhibition will run until April 6 at the Blackwood Gallery and e|gallery.

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