The Gallery at Sheridan College welcomed students and faculty last Thursday evening for the opening of its current exhibition, Project Project. The exhibition features studio work by first- and second-year Sheridan and UTM art and art history students. The art on display includes samples from the six subdisciplines of the program: drawing, painting, sculpting, print media, design, and photography.

The joint art and art history program between Sheridan and UTM offers students both academic and applied studio work. Students participate in art history courses at UTM and studio art courses at Sheridan. Project Project is a display of student assignments completed this semester. The exhibition is a project on projects, hence its title.

The bright gallery features paintings, photography, and print media hanging on the walls and drawings, design pieces, and sculptures resting on pedestals. I was particularly impressed with Bushra Din and Kate Shen’s piece—an egg, slightly smaller than a football, made entirely of eggshells. For this design project, students were asked to take an object and, through means of transformation or repurposing, reinvent its function and conceptual meaning. The makeshift egg sits in a nest with light glowing from the inside out. The piece achieves a stunning effect as light seeps from the cracks where fragments of eggshell meet. The egg glowed among other design projects, including a crystal made from shards of CDs and a tower-shaped composition of drinking straws.

On the opposite end of the gallery sits a collection of cardboard sculptures. For this sculpting project, students were asked to examine a common household object and replicate its design using cardboard. The pieces include a hammer, fork, toy truck, spray bottle, mechanical pencil, lighter, pepper grinder, nightlight, puffer, hair straightener, Lego man, headphones, and a USB stick. The sculptures are large—some at least several feet long—and immediately caught my attention as I walked into the Gallery. As someone who has a hard time cutting open the flaps of cardboard boxes, I was amazed with what students were capable of creating with such a difficult material. The coordinator of Project Project, Jay Wilson, describes the exhibition as a “teachable moment” for art and art history students. As a professor of design at Sheridan, Wilson teaches design courses to first- and third-year students.

Wilson explains that student projects, such as the ones on display, are “about [the students] harnessing their own vision—about them figuring out what their own aesthetic is and also what their conceptual concerns are for the content of their work. It’s important to let them do what interests them”.

Project Project displays roughly one-third of the art and art history students’ studio work from this semester. The reason for this, Wilson explains, is unity. When putting the exhibition together, the coordinator needs to consider how each of the pieces will complement each other. Often a group of similar art pieces will look good together, while others tend to be more impactful on their own.

Jamie Owen, the Gallery installation designer, is responsible for the design and placement of art featured in the Gallery. “He’s the unsung hero,” Wilson explains. “He has this amazing way of telling a story with the way he positions art and coordinates one piece with another.

“The paintings speak across the room to one another, the sculptures are placed apart from one another, and this is first time I’ve seen him put a seating area in our show. There’s a lot of work in here, but he still manages to have places for your eyes to rest.”

When asked what the audience should take into consideration when visiting Project Project, Wilson remarks, “[The art and art history] program is a small program, but we’re like a big family. The more people we can get in here, the better, because we want to inspire our students. We hope that people come in here and notice the skill level and also the conceptual understanding [of the artwork].”

Project Project will be on display in the Gallery until November 20.

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