Last Thursday, Visual Arts Mississauga hosted its 39th Annual Juried Show of Fine Arts at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. There were 201 submissions in total, from which 38 became finalists.

Terri Jenkins-Bricel, a member of the Board of Directors, explains how a tremendous amount of organization goes into running an event of this calibre. Everything must be planned and thought through well in advance of the event, such as coordinating staff and volunteers, hanging and strategically positioning the art pieces for the most visual impact, arranging guest speakers, deciding what refreshments will be offered, and so on.

When asked what criteria must be met by the artists in order to be a finalist, curatorial and collections coordinator Laura Carusi explains that as long as the finalists are residing in Ontario and submit their work before the deadline, they are eligible. She added that anyone from the emerging, the mid-career, and the established levels are welcome.

The different styles of art in this exhibition are notable as you walk through. It’s not about simply putting ink to paper or brush to canvas; many artists used material, such as embroidery on a t-shirt, different forms of mixed media images pieced together, and even wool, steel, and wood to make sculptures. Artists also used acrylic, oil, and watercolour on canvas or paper. All of the pieces were extremely powerful, as they raised major issues of racism, religion, sexism, and media—to name a few.

The most untraditional and unique form of art was the HD video created by Shazia Javed. The jury voted Javed first place for her video titled “Can You Hear Me?” and set in Mississauga. Javed’s main source of inspiration was the lack of acceptance and the negativity that surround women in the modern day world.

The video begins with a woman repeating the phrase, “Can you hear me?” several times. When no one hears her, she leaves and returns wearing a hijab. She repeats the same phrase. Still, no one hears her. Frustrated, the woman leaves and returns wearing a burqa. Once again, she repeats the phrase, “Can you hear me?” No one hears.

At the end of the video, the screen is blank. The audience can hear the sound of a razor (which represents the shaving of the woman’s head) and a voice saying “Can you hear me?”

According to Javed, this conclusion symbolizes a rebellion. It poses the question, “What else do you want me to do?” The woman has rid herself of her hair, so there is nothing left to focus your attention on—just the sound of her voice.

Javed’s video expresses the idea that people are often unable to see past the outer appearance of a woman. The message creates a powerful work of art applicable to both men and women. “Can You Hear Me?” voices an issue that many women must endure in their everyday lives.

The 39th Annual Juried Show of Fine Arts is on display at the Art Gallery of Mississauga until February 18.

This article has been corrected.
  1. January 17, 2017 at 5 p.m.: Javed’s video was not set in nor intended to be a comment on the Middle East. It was set in Mississauga.
    Notice to be printed on January 23, 2017 (Volume 43, Issue 16).

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