Grads present: Didactic

The Art and Art History Graduate Exhibition Didactic held its opening reception at the Blackwood Gallery on Wednesday, March 4 from 5:30 p.m. — 7:30 p.m. The show was an opportunity for UTM and Sheridan Colleges graduating art students to exhibit and celebrate their achievements, while witnessing their growth over the course of the program. It was also a chance for the artists to showcase their work to the public and for the viewers to anticipate where the work is headed once these graduates step out of their academic careers.

Didactic is a collection of pieces from UTM and Sheridans graduating art (photos/Matthew Filipowich).
Didactic is a collection of pieces from UTM and Sheridans graduating art (photos/Matthew Filipowich).

Blackwood had to expand its gallery space to allow for the waves of viewers who stood elbow-to-elbow in appreciation of the art on display. In attendance along with friends and families of the student artists were proud professors from the Sheridan campus as well as with Art and Art History program alumni.

Professor John Armstrong, who is also the program coordinator of the Art and Art History programme, extended messages of thanks and support, and explained how the grad show has been a running tradition since 1972. Armstrong stressed how the students moved from their arrival of uncertainty into realized individuals capable of individuated work.

This year the students namely, Michelle Johnson, Drew Lesiuczok, Ryan Lord, and Jaclyn Quaresma, initiated their own active roll in the events organization with the help of Christof Migone, Blackwood Gallerys director and curator. Migone explained how the show is like a marker because it is meant to signify the culmination of something, but also implies the beginning of something else.

The works on display are executed in a variety of media from all of the studio disciplines including painting, drawing, print media, photography, design, sculpture, and video installation. Each piece demonstrated its own exemplary level of growth and sophistication on both a conceptual and technical level. Themes are as broad as the medium choices and span from topics of personal interest and self-discovery to catalogues of the social, political, and cultural depending on the concerns of each artist.

Mallory Diaczuns Slam Dunk Project encourages viewers to create signs in support of her efforts toward achieving a slam dunk; she examines gender and racial stereotypes through the merging of art and athletics. Johnson  go also encourages viewer participation with his haiku piece Variations of Self. Other artists explore the possibilities of watercolour, gouache, acrylic, and oil on a wide range of supports as they execute their individual studies in painting.

Some paintings include Tricia Chius Untitled, Riccardo Conte- Oro De Arcos Hand me Downs, Gurpreet Sehras Drink Water, and Jenna Pyles Scaffolding. Chris Lengyell works in a variety of media with his drawings and paintings titled Rumours, Colours, and eighbourhoods. Beyond two dimensions, sculptors work with found objects like fake eyeballs, VHS tape, and pantyhose as seen in Elena Cherepinas Octopeye, Eva Tsangs Untitled, and Jaclyn Quaresmas Preservation and Virgin Pin.

Visitors gather to view Michelle Johnsons video installation featuring her alter ego, Lady Deathstar (photos/Matthew Filipowich).
Visitors gather to view Michelle Johnsons video installation featuring her alter ego, Lady Deathstar (photos/Matthew Filipowich).

Michelle Johnsons videos address the issue of exploitation with the help of her character Lady Deathstar. Some print artists include Albert Dalton with his otlads Meticulity, and Reena Patel and her screen-print entitled 238 Diatoms. Johnson Ngo and Shelly Williams even have work on display on the video wall in the eGallery.

This is just a fraction of all the great work that is spiraling through the walls of the Blackwood Gallery. There are eighteen artists currently displaying work in the first exhibition: Kora Bakier, Myra-Ann Boyle, Tricia Chiu, Elena Cherepina, Claudia Ciornei, Albert Dalton, Ricardo Conte-Oro De Arco, Mallory Diaczun, Paige Haggett, Johnson Ngo, Reena Patel, Jenna Pyle, Jaclyn Quaresma, Gurpreet Sehra,  ishanti Siracanadrayagam, Eva Tsang, Monica Vogt, and Shelly Williams.

Didactic will be running until March 15. If the gallery walls could speak, they would encore for a second round. The second grad show exhibition Dialectic features the remainder of the artists, and it is taking place on March 18-29. The opening reception is on Wednesday, March 18 from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

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