Sara Cwynar Awarded Shpilman Photography Prize

January 11, 2021

Sara Cwynar is awarded the 2020 Shpilman Photography Prize by the Israel Museum.

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem has awarded Sara Cwynar as winner of the 2020 Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography. The Canadian artist will receive an award of $40,000 in recognition of her powerful activation of the photographic medium and her original critique of its political histories and to support the research, production, and post-production of a multi-platform video and photography project.  Honorable Mentions were also granted to Penelope Umbrico (USA) and Lebohang Kganye (South Africa).

This year the Shpilman Prize was dedicated to the theme of Action, exploring the tension between camera work that arrests action and the actual activities of cameras in current social and cultural spheres. The suspension of human movement that the COVID-19 crisis has inflicted globally only underscores this subject and its creative interpretations.

To view the full press release visit R&A.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Sara Cwynar featured by Portland Art Museum

January 4, 2021

Sara Cwynar’s work Encyclopedia Grid (Acropolis) is featured on the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center’s Daily Art Moment by Sara Krajewski, Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Encyclopedia Grid (Acropolis), Sara Cwynar, 40 x 32 inches, chromogenic print mounted on Plexiglass. A vertical rectangular print showing 51 postcard size images of the Acropolis arranged on a blue felt ground. The images are different sizes, both in color and black and white and mostly in a landscape format. Each also contains the image of a finger or two as if holding the picture. They are arranged in five vertical rows with the last row at right having an additional two images in portrait format. One of these images is the only one that does not show the Acropolis but instead a black and white picture of palm fronds and a banana bunch with a fingertip in color.

Sara Cwynar’s Encyclopedia Grid (Acropolis) tugs at my wanderlust. During the pandemic, I’ve traveled very little and have not been very far from Portland. Here, Cwynar arranges what appear to be clips and cuttings of the ancient Acropolis in Athens, Greece on a blue backdrop. Each image in the grid shows a finger placed on a reproduction of this historic site taken from collected postcards, travel books, and art history textbooks. Layers of picture-taking pile up in the composition; they suggest the ways that images inform our memories, affect our perceptions, and shape our world view. How often do we remember a vacation spot based on the photo we took or the postcard we bought?

The repeated visual presence of her finger is an important detail for me: touching these mementos and paging through a guide book resonate in my body in ways that swiping or clicking a screen doesn’t. I find this work compelling in the way Cwynar playfully pins down this symbol of Western civilization, ordering its many visual representations like kitschy specimens to be poked and prodded with questions about history, relevance, and power.

To view the full feature visit PAM + NWFC at Home.

For more information about Sara Cwynar please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis featured in NOW Magazine

December 22, 2020
Tags: News, Tau Lewis

Tau Lewis is featured in NOW Magazine by Kelsey Adams

Nine stellar highlights from Toronto’s art scene in 2020

In a year where mounting any show felt like a triumph, Tau Lewis’s first solo at Cooper Cole Gallery, Triumphant Alliance Of The Ubiquitous Blossoms Of Incarnate Souls was a godsend. It was cut short by the second lockdown, but luckily before that people flocked to see it. The scale of the works, sewn by hand and made from reclaimed household materials, is colossal. She dyed the fabrics in pastel pinks and peaches and soft browns to resemble a light-filled womb. The maternal, genderless beings exist in their own sci-fi realm, exuding a soothing tenderness. Her show was one that made us feel a little warmer and a little closer, exactly what I needed after months of isolation. I saw a handful of shows in person this year, but Lewis’s was the only one that felt like a warm hug.

To view the full article visit NOW Magazine.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Brie Ruais featured in Forbes

December 22, 2020

Brie Ruais is featured in Forbes by Brienne Walsh.

A wall sculpture

Using Her Body, Brie Ruais Traces The Mark Of Climate Change On Nevada’s Deserts

Four years ago, the artist Brie Ruais took a solitary road trip through America’s deserts, looking for a home that would provide her with the open space and connection to nature that she was missing in Brooklyn, where she has a studio. She bought a piece of land in the Great Basin Desert of Nevada and began making land art there. Often naked, and sunburned, she used her body to trace the marks left on the flat, dry land by animals that traverse it, but also industries such as mining and trucking. “It’s horrific to see an open pit mine, or a clear cut forest,” she says. “These are things that are intentionally hidden from sight.”

The only witness to her tracing was an aerial drone, which captured footage as she moved her body across the scars in the land. “As a queer white woman in the world, I have a discomfort taking up space,” she says. “Within these works, there was a revealing of my mark, my presence, my occupation.” Bold and created in all the glorious beauty of female flesh, Ruais’ interventions seem to be a marked middle finger to the macho history of Land Art in America, which is primarily made by men.

The aerial footage was the starting point for “Spiraling Open and Closed Like an Aperture,” a body of Ruais work currently on view at Night Gallery in Los Angeles through January 23, 2021. The exhibition includes photographs culled from the site-specific interventions Ruais made with her body, as well as a number of ceramic sculptures made in her studio in Brooklyn, all of them in direct dialogue with her ephemeral works made in Nevada.

To view the full post visit Forbes.

For more information about Brie Ruais please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Brie Ruias featured in Garage

December 18, 2020

Brie Ruais is featured in Garage by Osman Can Yerebakan.

2020_11_19_NIGHT1178.jpg

Brie Ruais’ Desert Magic

Artist Brie Ruais found herself in a former mining site while driving her truck through the Bureau of Land Management’s public lands in central Nevada. “I was in a ghost town and stumbled upon wild donkeys,” Ruais tells GARAGE over the phone. In the middle of a barren nothingness, a herd of untended donkeys was a surreal sighting, but she soon learned they were descendants of animals the early prospectors rode during their operations. “We, humans, can disappear but animals and nature will still thrive,” she saw firsthand.

The Brooklyn-based artist’s current exhibition, Spiraling Open and Closed Like an Aperture, at Night Gallery in Los Angeles hosts a mountainous floor sculpture that blossomed from this transformative two-week journey she embarked on from Utah to L.A. through Nevada. “On November 7th,” she remembers sharply, “I decided to use the clay and rock I had collected from this land where I felt extreme amount of intensity and division.” Earth, however, is still a mutual reliance connecting people immensely separated in their ideologies, so “I needed to bring some into the center of my show.” The things we build, the things we let fall apart, the things we destroy is comprised of two circles, separately made out of terra-cotta clay and porcelain clay, gently touching on their edges beneath a wall of rocks slicing through their unity.

Overall, the exhibition chronicles Ruais’ immersion into the desert, which started five years ago in order to break free from limits of a studio, but has recently reached new extents, both conceptually and physically. The distance the artist’s limbs can stretch determines her sculptures’ dimensions and embody Ruais’s meditative dabble with clay on the floor. Each form stems from an amount of clay equal to her body weight and reflects impressions of her movements. Think a sculptor’s fingers or a painter’s brush, for Ruais, her body is the tool and her instincts the trace. “A collaboration,” she considers this relationship with clay: “I am using a resistant material that proposes a challenge to work with.” Starting with her body weight equalizes this duello for both parties and tames her control over the source. “I needed enough material to allow for the body’s full expression and had to scale up to lose some control.”

Having the sun as the only witness to her solitude helps Ruais gain humbleness towards nature and its textures. “The realization that you are not the center of the universe,” she says, “is undeniable in that remoteness.” The expansively-laid sculptures on Night Gallery’s soaring walls echo with her terrestrial odyssey through bright hues of yellow and blue, as well as earthy tones of brown and red, all naturally formed during glazing. The artist orchestrates her patterns with rocks and rabbles from former missile testing sites in their natural color formations. “I use these colors to speak for the experience of standing in the desert and being totally overwhelmed by the sun.”

The juxtapositions reminisce solar explosions or alien marks—but do not attempt to rationalize what they represent. “We constantly try to explain our surrounding through logic.” Hallucinatory spirals and radiating starbursts emanate from what she considers “a recent receptivity and openness to what is beyond myself.” The show’s largest piece, Opposing Tides, Shaping Forces, is a fruit of a two-person endeavor, a kinetic harmony between two interdependent forces. Ruais and another person pushed two separate slabs of clay against each other. The emotional intensity of two bodies co-operating—whether it’s sex, wrestling or tussling around clay—is contained in this expansive horizontal form. Two winding entities almost match from their innards while two sharp rays approach from both ends. The physical process took around 10 seconds for Ruais and her collaborator, but the resulting imprint is colossal and radiant. “I gave them minimum instruction and the second we knew we were done, we walked away.”

Desolation is the protagonist in a series of photographs Ruais took of the soil with a drone camera. Seeing the land from aerial view helped her grasp its grandness and the humans’ ceaseless exertion for control. “I started to dig the center with an instinct to reveal more from beneath the dirt; it was not a premeditated search,” she explains the cross shaped signs in the photographs. They could be an homage to Ana Mendieta or peculiar extraterrestrial contacts, and the beauty lies in that mystery.

While cryptically sleek monoliths appear and disappear to our burning desire for an explanation, earth continues to make her own art on far-flung deserts. Ruais remembers her first reaction to ceramic sculptures New Mexico’s badlands yield two years ago. When the coal caught fire centuries ago, clay and dirt had turned into ceramics layered with color. “Seeing these beautiful piles of red ceramic shards, I asked myself, ‘Why do we need to make art?’”

To view the full article visit Garage.

For more information about Brie Ruais please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Brie Ruais Reviewed in KCRW

December 15, 2020

Brie Ruais exhibition at Night Gallery is reviewed in KCRW by Lindsay Preston Zappas.

Artist Brie Ruais literally wrestles her ceramic forms into shape. In her solo show at Night Gallery downtown, her spiraling and wall-bound sculptures are marred with deep divots and imprints that evidence the human touch. For many of the works, Ruais begins with a mass of clay that is equal to her body weight, and then goes about pushing and massaging the raw clay into forms that (like a snow angel) diagram the reaches of the artist’s limbs. The immense physicality that is required to manipulate raw clay imbues Ruais’ sculptures with an uncanny personification, the size, weight, and thumbprints embedded throughout matching her own.  For, “Opposing Tides, Shaping Forces” (2020), Ruais created the work with another participant — each started by flattening out their body weight in clay on opposite sides of a room, before pushing the clay sheets towards one another across the space as the clay buckled and folded underneath the pressure. The resulting work captures this collective activity in its fired form — like two halves of best friends heart necklaces that nest together. These sculptural works are also paired with aerial photographs, taken with a drone, of Ruais’ clay forms sited within the desert landscape. Photographed from above, the movements of plant and wildlife (deer trails and scattered shrubs) are vital signs of life — the ceramic forms, which also display signs of life and movement, seamlessly become one with their environment.

To view the full review visit KCRW.

For more information about Brie Ruais please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

ektor garcia featured in Mousse Magazine

December 15, 2020

ektor garcia is featured in Mousse Magazine by Jeppe Ugelvig.

Psychic Time of Handicraft: ektor garcia

garcia’s formal output resembles a lot of other things: ropes, chains, fasteners, loops, and knots, rendered in bronze or ceramic, or crocheted into hanging curtains or carpets using copper wire or leather. A slight wonkiness pervades his intricate designs, suggesting the intimacy and humanity of an amateur, but the way he combines materials (soft/hard, hanging/resting) lends them a bodily intensity, like totems. garcia’s work ranges from monumental structures (vertically steel-framed crocheted screens such as empezar I [2018]) to arrangements of small, detritus-like objects meticulously laid out on a table (cuiloni [2017]), echoing well-rehearsed display formats from ethnographic museums, where craft is often asked to perform cultural history (instead of, say, its own aesthetic autonomy). No doubt, craft production is laden with social meaning, also for garcia: as an intuitive researcher, he seeks out handcraft traditions from his native Mexico as well as from around the world, and relates them to critical instances of activism—from the lesbian-feminist fiber art of the 1970s to the monolithic AIDS Quilt (1985–ongoing).

garcia’s most recent exhibition at Empty Gallery in Hong Kong, Oax.D.F.L.A.N.O.H.K (2020), included a series of rough, dirt-colored glazed ceramic vessels (such as recipiente de cerámicacactus de cerámica, and monstruo [all 2020]) made in the Oaxaca workshop where the late artist Francisco Toledo realized his body of work commemorating the disappearance of forty-three students at the hands of the Mexican government in 2014. Particularly in the Americas, crocheting and ceramics production can be read via a much longer history of gendered, classed, and racialized labor struggle, where rural and migrant workers pass on creative family traditions to ensure their livelihoods, and craft has played a central role in episodes of political activism and nation building.2 However, as Julia Bryan-Wilson argues in Fray: Art and Textile Politics (2017), such narratives are no longer foreign to art history, but in fact well-rehearsed, even overly fetishized. The art world has even begun wholesale imports of indigenous and “women’s” aesthetic practices from around the world to make up for the centuries of exclusions that were necessary to construct and maintain the category “fine art.”3

In our current identity-political climate, there is a thirst for these maneuvers, even if it’s at the risk of oversimplified associations between marginalized aesthetic forms and (supposedly) marginalized subjects. At worst, this leads to deterministic readings that echo the same hegemonic perceptions of craft that the art world is heroically trying to undo: to assume, for example, that garcia’s rope-tied, corporeal, sensual motifs signify a literal sexual kinkiness, or even serve as hints to his own sexual predilections. Such a response repeats too vividly a cultural attitude that places the aesthetic expression of certain people—queer, brown, Latinx—in subordinate relation to others, reduced to sexualized Other and consumed as such. garcia’s activation of historical craft techniques forms social trajectories on a much more intimate scale—and particularly, serves as a register of time spent laboring—be it on a glove, a curtain, or a blanket. I have never met an artist who travels so much, and is constantly hand-making. Eternally itinerant and autodidact, you’ll always find him laboring over a new design, which he pulls out of his backpack at most occasions. His work is directly guided by movement and the learning of skilled techniques discovered or sought out—in cities, airports, villages, workshops—that he faithfully continues and symbolically transforms. Understood this way, garcia’s ethereally hanging “portals” (as he calls them) serve as passageways into the general psychic time of handicraft as it happens in and alongside the routines of life itself: traveling, daydreaming, listening to music, falling in love, feeling pleasure, loneliness, heartbreak. To garcia, his works function like spatial-temporal diary entries of “hours spent somewhere” that nonetheless remain in dialogue with a social history. As the artist simply puts it, “studying crafts, how they relate to me, and society at large.”4 Through the power of ambiguity, garcia thus manages to upend the current demands placed on craft as much as on queer, nonwhite art production—namely, to mean something, as representations of identity. This rejection invites the viewer into a far more quiet and sensorial sphere, where history is embodied rather than performed. garcia heralds craft as the art of the everyday, as unsensational and complete, with a critical apparatus found in the quotidian nature of its production rather than its hermeneutics of signification. Thus craft, if allowed to just “be,” may hold a counter-response to current identity politics’ asphyxiating demand for representation and the fixing of people as images. It insists that identity (and its battles) are found in the mechanics of labor; in the repeating of techniques, patterns, and styles passed down through history; in hours, days, and years lived.

To view the full article visit Mousse Magazine.

For more information about ektor garcia please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Walter Scott Featured in Canadian Art Magazine

December 10, 2020

Walter Scott is featured in Canadian Art by Amelia Wong-Mersereau.

Wendy, Master of Art is the third book in artist and cartoonist Walter Scott’s series of graphic novels that follows the beloved fictional artist Wendy through her messy escapades in life, love and the rise to contemporary art stardom. Born from a placemat drawing in 2011, Scott’s Wendy series takes place in a slightly alternative universe, where our protagonist encounters recognizable art-world types, some of whom are depicted as shape-shifters, aliens and other altogether nonhuman beings. In Wendy, Master of Art, Scott takes aim at the MFA program experience with a semiautobiographical tale set in the fictional town of Hell, Ontario.

Scott’s “Wendyverse” is a playful and pointed satire of the North American, mostly Canadian, art scene. With black-and-white line drawings of exaggerated or distilled facial expressions, his comics style is immediately understandable in a way that recalls the manga tradition. Wendy (2014) and Wendy’s Revenge (2016) documented our heroine’s early post-undergraduate days of partying, booze and drugs, as well as her attempts at professional development with artist residencies in “Flojo Island” and Yokohama, Japan. Scott’s third book begins the morning after a wild night of clubbing in Berlin, where Wendy wakes up to an acceptance email from the University of Hell’s MFA program. Several new characters are introduced to the series, including the stereotypical fibres fanatic, the international jet-setter, the self-identified “token dyke” and other angry and insecure individuals. There are also appearances by key members of the Wendyverse, such as Tina, Jeff, Screamo and Sandy, “the girl who has it *all…*consistent mental stability.” Across her time in the program, Wendy grapples with assigned readings of unintelligible academic theory, studiomate drama and teaching her first undergraduate class. For the first time, Wendy has responsibilities as an adult, not only to her students, but also to Xav, a polyamorous artist she becomes involved with, and to her best friend, Winona, an Indigenous multimedia performance artist.

At 276 pages, Wendy, Master of Art is the largest book in Scott’s series, but it strategically resists bringing us any closer to knowing the specifics of Wendy’s art practice. She describes her thesis project as, “teasing out the conundrum of autobiography through some kind of writing AND drawing essay.” This mystery and opacity allows readers to project themselves onto Wendy, and it is, arguably, precisely this that explains the popularity of Scott’s comics. Whether you see yourself or your friends in the Wendyverse or not, and no matter your proximity to the art world, Wendy comics are painfully relatable and incontrovertibly hilarious in their honest account of life as a young person.

While from the outside grad school seems to be the next logical step toward financial security and a career in the arts, Wendy’s situation appears to be no less precarious on the other end of her MFA. Scott conveys the stress and anxiety of this condition through Wendy’s interactions at her thesis defense show, where a barrage of questions—“Are you gonna look for teaching jobs?… What kinda art are you gonna make after this?… Are you happy?”— leads her eyes to disappear into two dark, empty circles. Wendy, Master of Art doesn’t end with the same cliffhanger we’ve come to expect from previous books, but instead with a sense of stability. “You live HERE now,” says Xav to Wendy in the last scene, an impromptu date at the aquarium. “…I do,” she answers, a somewhat ironic affirmation of Xav’s statement, their relationship and her potentially new outlook on life.

To view the full article visit Canadian Art.

For more information about Walter Scott please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

In Conversation with Eden Seifu

December 4, 2020

Eden Seifu was in conversation with us about her practice, in conjunction with NADA Miami.

 

For more information about Eden Seifu please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Brie Ruais featured in Art&Object

December 4, 2020

Brie Ruais is featured in Art&Object by Paul Laster.

Two additional Los Angeles shows add new meaning to traditional craft mediums: Brooklyn-based sculptor Brie Ruais at Night Gallery and Japanese floral artist Megumi Shinozaki at Nonaka-Hill. Ruais constructs vigorous ceramic abstractions in nature from the weight of her body in clay, while Shinozaki fabricates delicate floral displays with paper, wire, and rocks.

Ruais’s exhibition, Spiraling Open and Closed Like an Aperture, presents a powerful group of clay sculptural works, which the artist created in Nevada’s Great Basin Desert, along with a selection of dynamic drone photographs of the works in situ and a stone wall made from rocks that she collected on her road trip from Northeastern Nevada to L.A. Using her body as her only tool, the artist pushed the equivalence of her body weight in clay into riveting abstract shapes on the ground and then removed the pieces to be glazed, fired, and reformulated on the gallery’s walls.

Closing in on Opening Up, Nevada Site 6, 127lbs, depicts an eternal sunshine divided like a clock; Turning Over, 128lbs of clay and another of rocks and rubble portrays two complementary spirals composed from clay and rocks; and Opposing Tides, Shaping Forces presents a mural-size structure, which mimics the vastness of the desert’s horizon line, that was made in the artist’s studio by two people pressing their weight in clay towards one another. The photographs and stone wall add an arid ambiance to the white box, while providing new ways for the artist to express her earthy yet spiritual vision.

To view the full article visit Art&Object.

For more information about Brie Ruais please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Gabrielle l’Hirondelle Hill featured on Public Parking

December 3, 2020

Gabrielle l’Hirondelle Hill is featured in Public Parking in conversation with Michaela Dixon.

Tobacco, Energetic fields, and Indigenous economies: in conversation with Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill

I was in conversation with Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill between this past August and October. I reached Hill from London, UK, and over the period of our interaction, we navigated the intricacies of distant time zones, the entire Atlantic Ocean, and an ever-evolving pandemic. As a conversation partner, Hill was kind, engaging and always honest.

Hill is a Cree and Metis artist/writer living in Vancouver, BC, located on the unceded Musqueam, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh territory. The artist employs sculpture, installation, found materials, and paper as tools for enquiry into concepts of land, property, and economy. Hill is interested in Indigenous economies, the valuation of labour, the peripatetic process, tobacco, sunsets in a certain part of town, our relationship to space, ephemera, bunnies and so much more.

Sourcing many of her materials from her own neighborhood, there is a central intimacy to the artist’s work. As a member of the Indigenous artist collective BUSH Gallery, Hill is committed to decolonial and non-institutional ways of engaging and valuing Indigenous knowledge and creative production. This model has led the way for an experimental practice that prioritizes land-based teaching, thinking, and community engagement.

In 2017, Hill acquired deaccessioned artifacts from the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. A result of their forthcoming relocation, the museum had reached out to Polygon Gallery in an attempt to help rehouse many objects and Reid Sheer, the museum’s director recommended they reach out to Hill. The artist had visited the archives on several occasions and some of the items she selected were repurposed into four sculptures titled Four Effigies For the End of Property: Preempt, Improve, The Highest and Best Use, Be Long (2017). These works act as leading testimony and witness to how the land on which Polygon Gallery stands became property under the law of Canada, stolen from the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh First Nation. Each of the four works explores the structure that enabled this land to be translated and transfigured into private property.

This past summer, Hill was set to open a solo exhibition at MoMA in New York that has since been postponed to April 2021 as a result of the global pandemic. Projects: Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill will be the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States. The exhibition brings together sculptures, drawings and a great big bunny made of tobacco in a mission to call attention to the plant’s complex Indigenous and colonial histories. As the artist explains, the bunny is used to recall both an Indigenous and a reproductive labour that has been historically disciplined and criminalized for centuries. Tobacco’s sacred and sensorial properties have taken many forms. It has been passed between hands for personal, social, political, and spiritual uses for generations past and will continue to for generations to come.

In this conversation, Hill and I speak about:  tobacco, collective memory, energetic fields, Indigenous economies, the pandemic, coded landscapes, making art in a capitalist system, drawing in order to get rid of something but mostly to hold onto it and a great deal more. Despite the fact that colonial governments have used very extreme measures to impose capitalism onto Indigenous people, our economy has survived, and it poses a living alternative to capitalism and a threat to capitalism.

A great way into the crux of your practice is through your use of tobacco, a material that permeates and gives form to much of your work. Can you speak to how you began working with the material and what drew you to it?

I actually began working with tobacco in a class where the instructor posed to us a series of experiments and challenges to carry out in the studio – mine was to make something that someone could smell rather than see. What struck me during the critiques was that everyone in the class associated tobacco with big advertising or corporate greed, whereas I had been thinking about ceremony, or offerings, because I was raised doing those things with tobacco. After that first work, I just became very interested in why my family and other Indigenous families use tobacco and in the material itself, the history of the plant and the way it smells and the texture of the dried leaves, and the colour of the flowers and everything. I grew twenty plants in my studio under grow lights over the winter. My whole studio was filled with these plants in buckets and they bloomed in January. I grew more [plants] up around my reading chair in the window and I used to do my reading up there surrounded by them.

I am drawn to your relationship with tobacco because of how seamlessly the political fuses with the personal.  When you mention growing tobacco plants in your studio and around your reading chair, I started thinking about the tobacco plants as a kind of multifaceted energetic field, if you will. Tobacco is also known to have held economic properties in Indigenous communities. What have these ideas led you to – both inside and outside your practice?

The way that tobacco circulates as an offering or a gift can be understood as – and I’m reducing the complexity for sake of this interview – part of a “gift economy”. I don’t like that term necessarily, as it is used by anthropologists and I do not think anthropologists have really understood what is happening in non-European economic systems. But I am using it here because if one wanted to, they could google and get a sense of what I am talking about. A term I think is more appropriate is Indigenous economy, and I have also heard the term kinship economy used. When I began to think about the way I was taught to use tobacco I realized that it was this way that the Indigenous economy has survived into my own life – me, a Metis person living in the city. Despite the fact that colonial governments have used very extreme measures to impose capitalism onto Indigenous people, our economy has survived, and it poses a living alternative to capitalism and a threat to capitalism.

Do you feel that tobacco acts as a signifier of collective memory in your work?

I haven’t thought of it that way but I suppose it must. I actually have almost no sense of smell, though I can smell strong scents like tobacco, But I don’t have that thing where a scent triggers memory. I think the smell of tobacco for people though is very quick to bring up memories and associations. I think depending on people’s cultural relationships with the plant, the works can definitely trigger big feelings and big ideas. The first work I made, the flag Orinoco Note, its shape is so blank, although the dimensions are very particular in the end it’s just a rectangle, and I think the power of something so spare is that people have a field where they can then think about whatever they want.

How might your use of tobacco take shape or morph in your upcoming exhibition at MoMA? How do you feel your relationship with the material has changed since your earlier projects?

I’m making a great big bunny. I think I’m just more comfortable with the material. But I don’t want to get too comfortable, I like to keep pushing the forms, experimenting, seeing what else I can do. I became very interested in rabbits as these animals that have been really derogated because of their association with sexuality and reproduction. In my mind they became this symbol of how reproductive labor and Indigenous labor has been made invisible, has been disciplined, outlawed and demonized.

In the past, I am thinking specifically of Money at UNIT 17, your bunnies have been interpreted as emblems of alternative economies. Can you speak to this a bit more and how they started emerging in your work? 

The bunnies came from a project I did with Chandra Melting Tallow, Jeneen Frei Njootli, and Tania Willard – all of whom are artists who are interested in Indigenous economies. Jeneen does amazing work about the sewing practices in her family and Tania has made beautiful work about gifting. We wanted to make a film about rabbit hunting, an Indigenous economic practice that is feminized and often overlooked. I became very interested in rabbits as these animals that have been really derogated because of their association with sexuality and reproduction. In my mind they became this symbol of how reproductive labor and Indigenous labor has been made invisible, has been disciplined, outlawed and demonized. So I became interested instead of holding up the rabbit and celebrating the way they multiply, giving outward rather than accumulating.

The project you are mentioning — Coney Island Baby was filmed during a December excursion to BUSH Gallery on the territory of the Secwépemc Nation – in the interior of British Columbia. I mention BUSH Gallery because of its particularly unique mission as a trans-conceptual gallery space – which requires “the body to be in a constant state of flux”. These more innovative approaches to gallery spaces are interesting because they are able to capture the energy of a temporary coalition without becoming themselves a lethargic institutionalized network. As a member and former resident of BUSH Gallery, what do you feel is the most important aspect of these spaces? And if at all, how do you interpret this dichotomy between institution and trans-conceptual space?

For me, what is most important about BUSH gallery is the friendships between the members and collaborators. I think because we approach BUSH gallery intentionally as this place that is led by the land or centred around the land, and it is not focused on production or individual egos, or art business, that influences the way we act when we are there. It is very intentionally about working together to take care of food, cleaning, kids, as well as the art and the ideas. The other most important thing about BUSH gallery is that it is about opening up your self to learning, thinking, and living in new ways. This has been extremely influential on my practice and my life in general.

In an interview with Chandra Melting Tallow, Jeneen Frei Njootli, and Tania Willard for C Magazine about Coney Island Baby, you mention that the project made you think about how the work was being created through motion. In the context of the film and trapping rabbits, the peripatetic process of working and thinking through movement makes for an interesting lead.  How does this peripatetic method permeate in your thinking and working process?

I have to admit that I know very little about the peripatetic method, which is funny considering how much I talk about it! But I did start thinking at one point that the academic model of thinking was both logically and physically mired in the current economic mode, i.e. capitalism. And I thought maybe making art is a more open ended way of thinking or learning. And yes, it’s often peripatetic, the way I make art, but additionally making art is a way of thinking that is not always based in language or in written language, so I feel that it’s likely that it makes your brain function or fire in a different way. I realize that art as we understand it itself is a product of capitalism, yet I still think there is this potential for me there to step outside of prescribed ways of thinking or experiencing things.

Your series entitled Spells is interesting within this line of thinking. The works begin as sheets of paper coated in tobacco-infused Crisco oil and throughout several months they dry. During this period, you gather an array of ephemera from your neighborhood to sew into the Spell and from there the topography of the work begins to take shape. What do you make of the suggestion that the Spells act as kinds of coded landscapes and the larger implications and rejections that they might suggest?

Yes, I’d say that is true. I mean literally sometimes I am thinking of a place, or a kind of place, when I make them. I am thinking about how fences in the city have things hanging or caught up on them – shirts, gloves, keys, and some newspaper maybe. Or I’m drawing a particular view that I remember one summer night laying out on a dirt road with a friend looking at stars. Or I’m thinking of what the sunset looks like in a certain part of town that I walk through often. And because I use all these little objects that I pick up walking around, I think those things are tied to places and so conjure place. I’m not suggesting the rejection of anything, though I don’t like to see the places I know disappear. Wait, I guess sometimes the spells are also rejections, like I want to get rid of something and the drawing is about that. But they’re more often made in order to hold on to something.

The project you are mentioning — Coney Island Baby was filmed during a December excursion to BUSH Gallery on the territory of the Secwépemc Nation – in the interior of British Columbia. I mention BUSH Gallery because of its particularly unique mission as a trans-conceptual gallery space – which requires “the body to be in a constant state of flux”. These more innovative approaches to gallery spaces are interesting because they are able to capture the energy of a temporary coalition without becoming themselves a lethargic institutionalized network. As a member and former resident of BUSH Gallery, what do you feel is the most important aspect of these spaces? And if at all, how do you interpret this dichotomy between institution and trans-conceptual space?

For me, what is most important about BUSH gallery is the friendships between the members and collaborators. I think because we approach BUSH gallery intentionally as this place that is led by the land or centred around the land, and it is not focused on production or individual egos, or art business, that influences the way we act when we are there. It is very intentionally about working together to take care of food, cleaning, kids, as well as the art and the ideas. The other most important thing about BUSH gallery is that it is about opening up your self to learning, thinking, and living in new ways. This has been extremely influential on my practice and my life in general.

In an interview with Chandra Melting Tallow, Jeneen Frei Njootli, and Tania Willard for C Magazine about Coney Island Baby, you mention that the project made you think about how the work was being created through motion. In the context of the film and trapping rabbits, the peripatetic process of working and thinking through movement makes for an interesting lead.  How does this peripatetic method permeate in your thinking and working process?

I have to admit that I know very little about the peripatetic method, which is funny considering how much I talk about it! But I did start thinking at one point that the academic model of thinking was both logically and physically mired in the current economic mode, i.e. capitalism. And I thought maybe making art is a more open ended way of thinking or learning. And yes, it’s often peripatetic, the way I make art, but additionally making art is a way of thinking that is not always based in language or in written language, so I feel that it’s likely that it makes your brain function or fire in a different way. I realize that art as we understand it itself is a product of capitalism, yet I still think there is this potential for me there to step outside of prescribed ways of thinking or experiencing things.

Your series entitled Spells is interesting within this line of thinking. The works begin as sheets of paper coated in tobacco-infused Crisco oil and throughout several months they dry. During this period, you gather an array of ephemera from your neighborhood to sew into the Spell and from there the topography of the work begins to take shape. What do you make of the suggestion that the Spells act as kinds of coded landscapes and the larger implications and rejections that they might suggest?

Yes, I’d say that is true. I mean literally sometimes I am thinking of a place, or a kind of place, when I make them. I am thinking about how fences in the city have things hanging or caught up on them – shirts, gloves, keys, and some newspaper maybe. Or I’m drawing a particular view that I remember one summer night laying out on a dirt road with a friend looking at stars. Or I’m thinking of what the sunset looks like in a certain part of town that I walk through often. And because I use all these little objects that I pick up walking around, I think those things are tied to places and so conjure place. I’m not suggesting the rejection of anything, though I don’t like to see the places I know disappear. Wait, I guess sometimes the spells are also rejections, like I want to get rid of something and the drawing is about that. But they’re more often made in order to hold on to something.

I have been thinking that in some ways the pandemic has highlighted that many of us think, create and write in a much less linear way than we might have previously imagined. It feels like an exciting and fruitful revelation. How has the pandemic shifted your way of operating, creating and existing both in and outside of practice? 

My kid was around 8 months old when the pandemic hit, and I’m a single parent, so things were bananas before and are still bananas. Everything has felt like a dream — like hazy and surreal and hard to keep track of — since I had her. I would say she has changed my way of creating and existing much more than the pandemic. I remember being pregnant and I would walk everyday through the snow to the studio, and I was nauseous and incredibly tired and it would be so so hard to get anything done. Now I get one studio day a week, I’m there 9-430 and I get so much done! And I love it so much – I feel so lucky to have that time to myself.

To view the full article visit Public Parking.

For more information about Gabrielle l’Hirondelle Hill please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Reviewed in Brooklyn Rail

December 2, 2020

Tau Lewis’ solo exhibition at Cooper Cole is reviewed in Brooklyn Rail by Lillian O’Brien Davis.

Tau Lewis, <em>Opus (The Ovule)</em>, 2020. Various recycled and hand dyed fabrics, recycled leather, acrylic paint, recycled polyester batting, jute, metal frame, PVA glue, secret objects, safety pins, metal hooks, wire, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Cooper Cole Gallery.

Tau Lewis’s work transcends the medium of craft. Lewis’s most recent body of work, Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls (T.A.U.B.I.S) demonstrates a new chapter in the development of a still-young artist. Emotionally intelligent and technically sophisticated, this body of work represents a period of intense production for Lewis. Over the period of a year, Lewis created the realm of the T.A.U.B.I.S. (pronounced /taʊ /beez) to explore desires for abundance, safety, deep roots, and justice.

T.A.U.B.I.S. is imbued with an ambition, confidence and a joy that exceeds the confines of a material category such as craft. The hand-dyed, reclaimed household materials such as curtains, bedsheets, blankets, towels, and clothing are colored with warm hues of pink and orange that resemble the interior of a light-filled womb. With this work, Lewis reflects on non-gendered motherhood—as well as gardens—as sources of knowledge and growth. Her sculptural textiles tell the story of an irresistible aliveness rooted in the black, fertile soil of time. In a moment of seemingly endless death and loss as we contend with the relentless public murder of Black and Brown people at the hands of police and the waves of grief related to the loss of life as a result of COVID-19, Lewis chooses to revel in life.

Manifestations of life, hand-sewn floral blossoms strung on loose strands of fabric and leather extend from and surround each of the sculptures. Like tendrils of connection linking to the wider world, the blossoms crawl along the floor of the main gallery to greet the audience. Larger than life with full lips and a serene expression, Symphony (2020) floats above eye level with long, thin arms and wide, open hands extending outward, covered in ropes of fabric flowers. The sculpture’s arms extend away from its body and two floral nipples firmly jut out from their chest, inferring both a source of nourishment and the pulse of a beating heart. Sensual and tender, the nipple is alert and hardened—a sign of life. Tucked in the corner of the lower level of the main gallery and seated on a chair, Delight (2020) invites a closer look, hands extending outwards and reaching for the viewer while protecting a protruding belly reminiscent of the taut roundedness of a pregnant womb.

Within Lewis’s creative womb, the protective qualities of motherhood offer a safe and nurturing reprieve from the horrors outside. Finally, Opus (The Ovule) (2020), a sculpture of a massive head with an even larger tongue, is housed in a basement storage unit next door, and takes up almost all the available space. The imposing size of the sculpture, paired with its massive, lolling tongue, evokes a sense of both largess and vulnerability, and is only accessible via the watchful guidance of a gallery attendant and their key. The extended tongue suggests the implicit trust of a body that refuses to retract into itself, that is unafraid to take up space while exposing its tender muscles. With an excess of references to life, Lewis’s impassioned attention to care resists the existential threat of death.

This exhibition positions Lewis within a rich lineage of other Black female artists who work with fabric and found objects, calling to mind Faith Ringgold’s story quilts, Rosie Lee Tompkins’s improvisational quilting and even Betye Saar’s mystical assemblages. The utilitarian and subversive medium of found-fabric sculpture utilizes fragments to tell stories of resistance—such as the history of enslaved people using quilts as a form of artistic expression harkening back to traditions of African textiles—or to engage with craft to bring “women’s work” into the contemporary art context, like feminist quit artists Lee Tompkins, Ringgold, or even Canadian artist Joyce Weiland.1 Like these artists, Lewis’s work possesses a seductive handmade-ness—an unfiltered accessibility speaking to the irrepressible life of the continued resistance of Black and Brown people.

To view the full article visit Brooklyn Rail.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Reviewed in Colossal

November 30, 2020

Tau Lewis’ solo exhibition at Cooper Cole is reviewed in Colossal by Grace Ebert.

Suspended Blossoms and Patchwork Characters Imagine a Pastel Universe of Overabundance

Considering the possibilities of non-gendered motherhood, Toronto-born artist Tau Lewis stitches together oversized characters and floral tendrils that occupy a lavish fictional world. Textured swatches of fabric transform stark gallery space into pastel gardens and the idyllic universe of the “T. A. U. B. I. S.,” or the bulging-eyed creature with a protruding tongue shown above. Teeming with themes of compassion, joy, and freedom, the sprawling works evoke birth and the warmth of a womb filled with light.

Part of the collection titled Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls—which closed last week at Toronto’s Cooper Cole—Lewis’s installations imagine an environment centered around abundance, which she explains:

Mutable and devoid of gender, they transmute into blossoms. Every blossom embodies a soul who is alive and listening. T.A.U.B.I.S. blossoms grow year-round, uni-wide, even in most harsh weather and on most hostile planets. The T.A.U.B.I.S communicate and collect intel through these blossoms.

A self-taught artist based in Brooklyn, Lewis hand-dyes vintage curtains, bed sheets, blankets, towels, and clothing that she sews into quilts and looming sculptural figures. Her body of work generally explores multiple facets of trauma and the ways manual labor can provide healing. From the textiles gathered throughout Toronto, New York, and her family’s home in Negril, Jamaica, Lewis patches together representations of community members and ancestors. “The transformative act of repurposing these materials recalls practices of resourcefulness in diasporic contexts; upcycling is a recuperative act that reclaims both agency and memory,” she says in a statement.

To view the full article visit Colossal.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

In Conversation with Tau Lewis

November 21, 2020

Tau Lewis in conversation with Magdalyn Asimakis about her current exhibition Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls.

 

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

ektor garcia Reviewed in Artforum

November 16, 2020

ektor garcia is reviewed in Artforum by Jared Quinton.

View of &#8220;ektor garcia: ya me vine, ya me voy,&#8221; 2020.

ektor garcia’s site-responsive exhibition is a humble, poetic offering for Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, the heart of the city’s Mexican community. His installation features handmade ceramics that cluster on the floor and wedge their way into the corners, ledges, and windowsills of this artist-run storefront space, conjuring the intertwined histories of Mesoamerican lore and craft through his earnest, restless experimentation.

Dozens of the sculptures, shaped like teardrops, line the main gallery, imbuing it with a rhythmic, ritualistic aura. They vary in color, texture, and size—from tiny red blips and raw unglazed mounds to imposing shards bearing crackly glazes or jet-black, orifice-like hollows. The low horizontal sprawl of objects is interrupted by a handful of hanging pieces, including a chain of fired porcelain links humorously titled white tears (all works 2020) and the imposing portal new orleans/chicago, a tapestry of crocheted leather that hangs by the front window, revealing its intricately repeating patterns to passersby on Cermak Road just outside. Other little offerings seem to crop up unexpectedly, like a cluster of the peculiar drops set back above the entrance—all but invisible from most vantage points—and a menacingly sensual burst pod form, flujo (flow), in the corner of another window.

garcia beckons us into his esoteric display—which feels like a spiritual space of respite on his journey through the world—with openness and reticence in equal parts. The title of the exhibition, “ya me vine, ya me voy” (which, roughly translated from Spanish, means “I’m here, I’m leaving”), invokes garcia’s personal connection to the city, where he made graffiti and performed guerilla art actions as a young student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. One of his street paintings—a rendering of the word llorona, a reference to La Llorona, the “weeping woman” of Latinx folklore—still remains by the Chicago River.

To view the full review visit Artforum.

For more information about ektor garcia please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Reviewed in Akimbo

November 6, 2020

Tau Lewis’ Exhibition Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls is reviewed in Akimbo by Kaya Joan.

Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate SoulsTau Lewis’s solo exhibition at Cooper Cole,​ is a portal into another universe. As stated in the exhibition text, the artist “​created the realm of the T.A.U.B.I.S. (pronounced /taʊ /beez) to explore desires for abundance, safety, deep roots, and justice.​” She does this through three room-sized textile sculptures representing ethereal beings, surrounded by blossoms, that occupy the gallery’s main space, basement, and storage unit.

Just beyond the entrance,
the being ​Symphony​ floats,
emitting deity energy,
with long strands of fabric flowers blooming around and under them like roots grounded in the space,
adorned with a flowing garment that reflects the bounty of safety and care T.A.U.B.I.S. holds.
They embody tenderness through their soft oranges and browns,
a feeling that continues into the basement, where ​Delight​ sits in a corner,
beckoning approach with a flower strand around their finger,
acting as another conduit between worlds.

The Ovule​ in the storage unit is the final portal into the world of T.A.U.B.I.S,
with a massive tongue extended,
commanding the room.

T.A.U.B.I.S emanates throughout the gallery through long leather strips of folded fabric blossoms hanging from the ceiling and around the beings – functioning as navigational devices, collecting intel, directly responding to movement in the space. Their animation means T.A.U.B.I.S is not just an imagined place. It is a pedagogy, a language of love, a way to be in a relationship with place and self.

Just as we carry all the stories of our ancestors in our bodies, transforming those stories and projecting new ones into the future, Lewis shapes an abundant diversity of material into a universe rich in joy and well-being for her community and kin.

Her beings are an assemblage of organic shaped panels of hand-dyed, upcycled household fabrics
encoded with the protocol of T.A.U.B.I.S.,
carefully hand sewn,
as one stitches together
quilt,
home,
future,
universe.

To view the full article please visit Akimbo.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

In Conversation with Chrysanne Stathacos for Art Basel OVR: 20C

November 3, 2020

Chrysanne Stathacos spoke about the work she made in the 1990s for Art Basel’s OVR: 20C, which is dedicated to work made in the 20th century.

For more information about Chrysanne Stathacos please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Kara Hamilton featured on Dezeen

October 30, 2020

Kara Hamilton’s “We the People” series for Salon 94 is featured in Dezeen.

Election Pins by Kara Hamilton & Salon Design

Six Designs to Encourage Voting in 2020 US Presidential Election

Election Pins by Kara Hamilton & Salon Design: Canadian Artist Kara Hamilton and Salon 94 Design teamed up with luxury retailer The Webster to create five voting-themed brass clothing pins.They include two fingers that form the letter V, Lady Liberty crown with vote written beneath and the letters US wrapped in chains. All proceeds go to FairVote and Earthjustice Action.

To view the full article visit Dezeen.

For more information about Kara Hamilton please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Kara Hamilton Featured in CBC Arts

October 29, 2020

Kara Hamilton’s “We the People” series for Salon 94 is featured on CBC Arts.

South of the border, “vote” is the word in fall fashion, and you can find those four letters slapped on $50 T-shirts, over-the-knee boots and designer face masks. “Vote Merch is Officially Fall 2020’s Most Popular Fashion Trend,” InStyle declared in September, a month after Michelle Obama’s V-O-T-E charm necklace went viral at the Democratic National Convention. And the internet’s awash in articles about where to buy the same statement-making gear worn by Oprah or Hailey Bieber: hoodies and pendants and tote bags emblazoned with some variation of the verb.

There’s something profoundly American about making a shopping event out of the democratic process. But the most brilliant (or cynical) twist in the whole vote/voting/voter merch phenom is how the singular joy of buying stuff is now a strategy to get folks to the polls. The most covetable items tend to benefit a cause, usually a non-partisan org for boosting civic engagement. When We All Vote, one of the more notable examples, drives voter registration by harnessing the hype of a product drop. (Meredith Koop, Michelle Obama’s stylist, is the creative advisor.) Score an exclusive Marc Jacobs sweatshirt or pair of crew socks from Brother Vellies (the brand of Toronto-raised designer Aurora James), and a QR code linking to registration info is printed somewhere on the product.

Right on trend, it would seem, is We The People, a series of election pins by the Toronto-based artist Kara Hamilton. And indeed, The Strategist (New York magazine’s shopping site) praised one of her brass brooches as being “genuinely nice-looking, non-cheesy vote merch.” Sold through the gallery Salon 94, all proceeds from the collection benefit two non-profits: FairVote, a non-partisan organization for electoral reform, and Earthjustice Action. And the series, which includes one-of-a-kind items and limited-edition multiples, is undeniably political, though a bit more abstract in its messaging than, say, an Old Navy graphic tee.

Among the collection’s more straightforward statements, there’s a pin in the shape of a house — gooey brass flames shooting up the side of it. In the centre, Hamilton’s bent a thin rod of metal to read “vote.” It’s open to interpretation, of course, but a literal house on fire sure reads like a nod to the moment. When the acting president is sowing doubt about mail-in ballots and side-stepping questions about the peaceful transfer of power, a word like “vote” isn’t exactly neutral anymore — which might account for the “vote merch” zeitgeist in the first place.

“Vote” appears on several more of Hamilton’s pieces, too. It’s splashed across a screaming mouth, a rainbow, a cloud of fire, weeping birds. “My two favourite issues, and probably the most important issues, are climate justice and election justice,” says the artist.

Big, gooey teardrops hang from almost every pin. “I started to think about tears because of the way I’m feeling, probably.” But Hamilton says they’re just as much a reference to blood or sweat or COVID-spreading airborne droplets. “There is an explicit message, I think, with most of the pins, although some people have had questions like, ‘What does the crying daisy mean?'” (The short answer, she says, is global warming.)

“I wanted to make things that responded to ideas that wouldn’t necessarily end after the election.” Still, it’s the current presidential race that prompted the series.

Based in Toronto, where her exhibition Water in Two Colours appeared at the Art Gallery of Ontario last year, Hamilton has strong ties to the States. She spent 20 years in the country and studied sculpture at Yale. “I’m a dual citizen. I moved back here a number of years ago now, but I was getting super frustrated with not being able to feel active and participate in the demise of American culture,” she says, chuckling. “And so I just thought I could put the tools that I know to work, and make quote-unquote election pins.”

Living in Canada, it’s definitely going to affect me, the outcome of this election.– Kara Hamilton, artist

Hamilton’s long produced wearable work, typically using salvaged metal to fashion rings and necklaces and crowns. “I’m a sculptor, but I always have had this kind of adjacent jewelry practice,” she says. “Critical decoration” is her word for it — “meaning critical as necessary and critical as analytical.” And as political fashion statements go, pins are an especially traditional format. “The whole idea of a pin or a brooch is sort of exercising an opinion of sorts,” says Hamilton, though she says she wasn’t picturing a specific consumer when designing We the People. The project started as something way more personal: “I just knew that I would want to wear one.”

That said, the collection’s promotional posters star a variety of ordinary Americans, all wearing Hamilton’s pins. A collaboration with the photographer Katy Grannan (an old school friend), the portraits were shot in Newburgh, N.Y., earlier this fall. Grannan sought to capture folks on both sides of the political divide, though their leanings aren’t revealed in the images. Republican or Democrat, Hamilton says all the participants were on board with the project’s basic message: vote.

To make the photos, Hamilton crossed into the States to join Grannan on location, but being a Canadian visitor was a non-issue on the shoot. “I don’t know if I talked about it that much,” she says. “I don’t think I would be doing this if I was only Canadian. […] But now that I’m living in Canada, it’s definitely going to affect me, the outcome of this election. Climate change is the perfect example: it doesn’t stop at the border.”

“I feel like any way to spread the word is important at this point. It feels sort of critical.”

To view the full article please visit CBC Arts.

For more information about Kara Hamilton please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

Tau Lewis Featured on Art Viewer

October 29, 2020

Tau Lewis is featured on Art Viewer for her solo exhibition at Cooper Cole.

For this presentation, Lewis has created the realm of the T.A.U.B.I.S. (pronounced /taʊ /beez) to explore desires for abundance, safety, deep roots, and justice. Since last year, the artist has been hand dyeing reclaimed household materials such as curtains, bed sheets, blankets, tow-els, and clothing into these warm, pastel palettes that are meant to resemble a light-filled womb. These hand-sewn sculptural textiles reflect on non-gendered motherhood and gardens as sources of knowledge and growth. This exhibition tells a story of joy, freedom, and triumphant love.

“The T.A.U.B.I.S. act as the judicial sector of the universe. Lawmakers and enforcement Uni-wide must seek T.A.U.B.I.S. consent. Motherly, intimidating and tall, the T.A.U.B.I.S. have the gift of foresight.

Tasked with regulating the moral compass of the universe, souls inducted into the T.A.U.B.I.S have lived lives to the fairest and most compassionate of their ability. Ascension to the T.A.U.B.I.S after death is an institution bearing a resemblance to sainthood on Earth. A prospect for any soul belonging to any honourable conscious life-form, regardless of planetary designa-tion, class, species or religion.

Mutable and devoid of gender, they transmute into blossoms. Every blossom embodies a soul who is alive and listening. T.A.U.B.I.S. blossoms grow year-round, uni-wide, even in most harsh weather and on most hostile planets. The T.A.U.B.I.S communicate and collect intel through these blossoms.

Continuation of the T.A.U.B.I.S. is contingent upon the safeguarding of the Ovule. The Ovule is an information bank and power source. The Ovule registers, sorts, and disperses data collected via T.A.U.B.I.S. blossoms to the unified T.A.U.B.I.S. consciousness. It Is at once all seeing and incapacitated. The Ovule is watched over by a group of three T.A.U.B.I.S. ordained as the Gy-noecium. The Gynoecium entertain the Ovule with songs and theatricals, massage it, and feed it. Once a cycle the Gynoecium rotates. The Ovule extends its tongue and its caregivers crawl into it’s mouth. They are absorbed into T.A.U.B.I.S. consciousness and a new Gynoecium is selected.” – Tau Lewis

Left to the Discretion of the T.A.U.B.I.S

In the beginning there was a florid pulsar’s scorching light birthing a singularity
spreading its webbed fingers.
a trail of knowledge bunching into colonies
which budded

bulging in the gaps between planets.

At first there was filament in the silence then there was motion breaking the dark
shouting
then music. songs

of things yet to happen to be decoded transcribed.

Soft spoken
all-seeing
motherly lords
nursing neon clouds, bubbling oceans, primordial wonder, electrified winds

division

in the collective mouths of Harmony,
of the T.A.U.B.I.S. –

champions clad in fat
gold velvety trimmings which
while tugging hanging orbs
recorded names and memories in the creases of their outstretched palms.

these scribes’
multi-pronged scales over world-domes tugged by lustrous vines hum like slow
cymbals crashing

peace in the void, resting matter, sweetly heavy eyes.

Heliacal blooms kiss and shield like nanny-eyed Grace
tints passages of sound and color with inexhaustible Love.

We sleep tenderly in refractions of strobing light as our overseer’s benevolent
reach
denting time
haloing Goodness in a dawning gloss

over all we can fathom like gauze.

All knowing arms encase life everlastingly.

Honeyed pedals in the dark humming bliss
bestriding gravity into giant’s crusts .

Divinity.

Birthed on polychrome plages shouting
echoes spanning horizons everywhere
heard like cooing through engines of light
wafts like wings through the cosmos.
Harbingers refracted through ever-knotting bands of becoming.

The T.A.U.B.I.S.
rooted in the black, fertile soil of time

filing quintessence in illustrious libraries – in their bodies.

– Yves B. Golden

To view the full post visit Art Viewer.

For more information about Tau Lewis please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

Kara Hamilton Featured on Art in America

October 21, 2020

Kara Hamilton’s “We the People” series for Salon 94 is featured on Art in America.

 

 

I used to look forward eagerly to election night, when I was a kid. My parents, not normally ones for throwing parties, opened up our house every four years. It didn’t matter to me who won, I just loved the decorations, especially the board of old election pins whose obscure slogans—Give ‘Em Hell Harry, I Like Ike, All the Way with LBJ—seemed to me like ancient runes. I think back on these events, today, as we hurtle toward a presidential election of unusual significance, trying somehow, as Jesse Jackson put it during his own campaign for president in 1988, to keep hope alive.

What’s helped me to do that, in recent days, is another collection of election pins. They are the work of Toronto-based artist Kara Hamilton, best known for her sculptures featuring pieces of concrete, brass instruments, and other found objects. Hamilton was originally trained as an architect, and often places her works in purposeful dialogue with the built environment, describing them as “jewelry for buildings” or “critical decoration.” She also makes actual jewelry, a practice that she’s been able to maintain during the coronavirus lockdown.

With the election looming, it occurred to Hamilton that making pins might be a way to engage politically. As a medium of communication, campaign buttons have been swept into the desk drawer of history, rendered obsolescent by social media and other online platforms. But for Hamilton, that made the genre all the more attractive. She wanted to reinvent it, transcending its ephemerality, using it to speak not to the fraught exigencies of the moment, but to the American political condition as such.

With this in mind, she set to work, carving a series of designs in pink wax and then casting them in brass. The aesthetic she arrived at was impromptu, gestural. Hamilton typically recycles her metal from castoff jewelry and other junk-store finds, melting it down and giving it new form. Her aesthetic is informed by this process of making; it takes cues from the sprues (the metal left in the channels that enter and exit a mold) and other detritus that litter her workbench.

The pins’ materiality thus speaks to the idea of transformation. So, too, their lettering and imagery. Though executed in a manner that recalls the pop graphics of Corita Kent or Milton Glaser, the messaging tends toward the recondite. Yes, there is a pin that reads FUCK TRUMP—how could there not be?—as well as a few obvious allusions to the Statue of Liberty, the importance of TRUTH, and the simple injunction to VOTE. But most of the pins have abstruse motifs, reminiscent of Surrealism: a house on fire, a mouth spewing liquid, an eye with rays shooting out of it. Tears are a recurrent theme, rolling forth from an eagle, a bumblebee, an elephant, a flower. Also repeated throughout the work are the letters “US,” referring at once to America, and to those who live in it together.

Hamilton gave the overall project the title “We the People.” At the outset, she determined that all proceeds from the sale of the pins (via Salon 94 gallery in New York) would go to charitable causes: FairVote and the Earthjustice Action Center. And that would have been that—except then it wasn’t. Enter Katy Grannan, the celebrated photographer, who has been a close friend of Hamilton’s since the two women attended graduate school at Yale some twenty-five years ago. They had never collaborated before, and here was a chance. They would bring the pins to life through Grannan’s signature strategy: making intimate portraits of complete strangers.

The first time Grannan did this, in the late 1990s, she made contact with her subjects through newspaper advertisements, and over the course of her career, she has retained an interest in unlikely encounters. She says that photography, for her, “is almost an excuse to engage with people.” She has also introduced other forms of connection. In her series “The 99” (2014), for example, the common thread is a road. She reprised the Depression-era technique of Dorothea Lange, traversing California’s Central Valley from town to derelict town along Highway 99, making portraits in the scorching midday heat, building a collective picture of a desperate, intense, and somehow heroic stretch of America.

For the photographs in support of “We the People,” Hamilton and Grannan chose Newburgh, New York, as their shooting location. It’s one of those rough-and-ready Hudson River Valley towns that boomed for decades before finally going bust, as the local manufacturing and shipping industries faded away. Today it contains multitudes: a diverse population, about half Latinx, a quarter Black, the remainder white and Asian-American. Democrats outnumber Republicans about two to one. There is economic deprivation in Newburgh, but a few factories still operate there, and others have been converted into artists’ studios, indicating a nascent wave of gentrification. Newburgh is also a place of historic importance, having been Washington’s headquarters during the last year of the Revolutionary War.

Against this backdrop, Grannan and Hamilton set out looking for conversation—and they found it. The pictures, taken in the midst of the pandemic, at about the midpoint between George Floyd’s killing by police and the November election, capture America at a tipping point. Each conversation began with an unprompted overture on the street, in circumstances laced with the dread of communicable disease. (Adding to the sense of crisis, Grannan had to keep checking on her house in California, which was threatened by wildfires.) The people the two artists met in Newburgh didn’t speak much about the presidential election itself, but the many challenges of the moment, and their own sense of what it was to be American. Grannan and Hamilton would offer a range of pins to wear, sometimes singly, sometimes in clusters, like so many medals. Just as they intended, the resulting images convey not a single political message, but many variants of patriotism, as individual as the people themselves.

Grannan and Hamilton were able to include at least one Trump supporter in the project, a first-generation Italian immigrant who had operated a garment manufactory most of his life. (When his business went under, he blamed Bill Clinton and NAFTA, and he’s voted Republican ever since.) Grannan shows the man shielded by a glass door, which he holds ajar—as if he were being canvassed for his vote. He looks skeptical, but willing to listen. A timeworn PULL sign is positioned right in front of his eyes, as if voicing the question that hovers in the photograph: when contrary opinions meet, is there any chance of a shift in position?

At the other end of the opinion spectrum was a Black fashion designer who had partly burnt an American flag and then fashioned it into a top. Grannan thought she looked like the Statue of Liberty, and posed her accordingly in one picture. In another, the young woman has her head held high, bandana wrapped around her lower face, peering out at the wild blue yonder. The pin she chose for the image shouts NO.

Looking at these pictures, I think back to the campaign buttons my parents brought out every four years. I think of the sense of urgency that once attached to them and eventually dissipated: words going in one ear of the body politic and out the other. In 2020, a year fired by protest, it can be hard to adopt that long view; to remember that most of our outrages will be another generation’s half-remembered trivia; that the truly important thing is civic culture itself. Hamilton’s pins will never be obsolete, because they are merit badges for democratic engagement itself. FUCK TRUMP? Absolutely. He has been uniquely destructive to America’s political system, which is based on reasonable and informed debate, in which we all have an equal voice. But even more important, TRUTH. US. And VOTE.

To view the full article please visit Art in America.

For more information about Kara Hamilton please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

In Conversation with Brie Ruais for Frieze London

October 16, 2020

Brie Ruais spoke about her new work for Frieze London 2020.

 

For more information about Brie Ruais please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

In Conversation with Rachel Eulena Williams: on Challenging Colour, Form, and Art History

October 15, 2020

To look down the sea, 2020.
Acrylic, dye, canvas, and rope on wood panels
170.2 x 279.4 cm.

COOPER COLE artist Rachel Eulena Williams works at the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Her reconfigured canvases unbind painting from the stretcher, avoiding conventional support systems and imagining a myriad of spatial contortions. Her evident interest in colour represents a liberation from, and criticality of, Western art history’s othering of colour, and categorizing it as unruly, foreign, and vulgar. Instead, her interest in imagining unrestrained structures exceeds those boundaries and is partially inspired by science fiction. Williams’ drawings also manipulate the way images are presented, playing with assumptions about virtuosity through abstraction.

We recently spoke to Williams about the new work she made for the exhibition HEY MARS with Scott Treleaven held at Cooper Cole.

CC: Could you tell us a bit about your process of making the works in Hey Mars? What inspired the works?

RW: My process evolved in the months that lead up to Hey Mars. I was primarily working in big batches, creating lots of dyed or painted materials that became distinctive patterns. This process allowed me to handle and connect moments in a single work or series. There were some new attempts at creating gestures and expanding space within the works, and incorporating different weight canvas along with small wooden panels led to works with marks that express movement and gesture.

CC: How do you decide on your materials?

RW: I choose my materials as they relate to the marks, shapes, and line weights I create in my own drawings. I think of it as almost imitating the process of painting with objects; transforming the materials into the drawing base. There has been an evolution in my work to include more everyday objects. I have spent time reflecting on how the objects can add to the conversation of my practice. I am really drawn to materials with their own marks and graphic abilities. The tension that is created between physical textures and flat marks brings another visual dialogue into the paint’s reaction to surface.

CC: Some of your canvas works sprawl across walls, held together with painted rope. Do you imagine them adjusting to where they are installed? Or are you specific about what the final shape is?

RW: I can’t imagine that there will be a uniformity to the installation of my works, and I think that adds to the conversation. When the work is being installed it is usually quite fun and easy, there isn’t much need for a level or string, because there is no right way for the work to exist in relation to the wall. While there is up and down they aren’t relying on a specific angle. The work has many parts that are already connected, making its right or wrongness exist only in relation to itself. That is even more exaggerated in the works that sprawl across walls in this show. There are gestures happening while the materials rely on the moments of strong relation to create their stillness. Because it is all connected, the piece is in relationship to the moments embedded in it; it exists within itself, like if a drawing was turned on its side. To me, there is no wrong way because you can see it in so many different ways especially in relation to different spaces.

CC: You have spoken before about how Western art history has affected the way weunderstand colour, how do you deal with that in your works?

RW: Colour is a story that spans across time and civilizations, and just like any history class there is a narrative lens through which it is viewed, along with which works get highlighted. There is a priority for white and lighters colors, while bright color has been viewed as unrefined. But when you open up the conversation to different civilizations over long periods in history, color, pattern, symbol and language convey specific meanings. They can be learned language or everyday ritual. The work has a purpose for introspection in addition to outward representation.

In some works I address white as the ‘norm’ or backdrop— especially as it relates to the white walls of the gallery— by thinking about how my work will converse with the neutral color palettes it is installed on. I use white to compliment, finish, and connect the work to the uniformity that blankets the pattern. The uniformity of the white beneath my work becomes part of my story; it becomes a colour in my composition that I am challenging. Noticing that and understanding that is how you understand all of art history, and understanding how we view what is ‘normal.’

CC: And you often cite David Batchelor’s text Chromophobia, which speaks about the marginalization of colour.

RW: Black abstraction has always been about colour, and that is where I think Batchelor’s argument is coming from. What if this Western idea of art and expression was flipped? It would show identity as not one thing, as something diverse and complicated. It brings me back to the white walls. We don’t notice them, and that is how we have been conditioned to see it and whiteness in society.

CC: Does your critique of colour in art history extend to shape and form?

RW: At times, the shapes will settle into traditional art historical shapes. Shields, columns, and homes. I am thinking about the future versus the idea of timeless imagery. I am really interested in the places where two very different identities meet.

CC: In some paintings, you have chosen to stay within the frame of the canvas and build up and out of the two-dimensional plane. What led you to that creative decision?

RW: I began using wood panels as a challenge. If I was in conversation with painting it felt neccesary to incorporate the traditional painting structure. At first I wanted to make them unrecognizable, which led me to the works that  sprawl across the wall. Then my work went through a subtle transformation of turning traditional painting structures into pedestals for fragments in my work. I began to see how the small moments that would break the square give the eye an entry point in the textural aspects of what could appear to be a flat surface. The buildup of layers on the panels can be much more physical, and it creates a narrative in the process of removing or shifting the sculptural elements.

CC: How does drawing factor into your practice?

RW: Drawing is really important because I imagine creating larger works as I draw. It is a process that helps me think through the relationship to the wall, for example, so I am drawing as if it is coming to life. Drawing crosses over into my prints too, on the prints I start with the small lines that you see. Then everything else flows from those lines.

CC: Could you tell us a bit about the prints you made for this exhibition? Was this your first time working in printmaking?

RW: It was not my first time working in printmaking, but it was my first time printing in color, specifically oil. I was able to learn oil monoprinting techniques in my SIP Fellowship at The Robert Blackburn printshop, which really introduced me into erasure techniques used. The works are monoprints with small moments of collage. They are made in a backwards order, starting with the fine lines to create a map for collaged elements, which are added with an erasure technique. Thinking through erasure inspired me to include intentional patches of bare paper throughout the compositions. In the erased space, I add a piece of paper with a drawing or painting to create the appearance of other dimensions.

Cooper Cole Featured on Artsy

October 10, 2020

Cooper Cole’s Frieze London Online presentation is featured in Artsy’s “15 Best Booths at Frieze London and Frieze Masters Online”.

 

 

Even the largest art fair tent would have difficulty accommodating booths for over 250 galleries. However, the silver lining—of sorts—to all the major art fairs going virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic is that spatial considerations no longer apply. While visitors to this month’s Frieze London and Frieze Masters fairs won’t be able to plop down for a break on a bench in verdant Regent’s Park as they trudge from one tent to the other, they will be able to navigate the Frieze Viewing Room platform to their hearts’ content without breaking a sweat.
The online platform for the fairs opened to VIPs yesterday and opens to the public tomorrow, running through October 16th. The offerings are typically wide-ranging: from millennia-old objects being offered by antiquities dealers at Frieze Masters to works made by emerging artists during lockdown on offer in many Frieze London virtual booths. Some galleries have opted for thematic or conceptual presentations, while others have indulged the time-honored tradition of bringing a little bit of everything. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the standout presentations are often those showcasing one or two artists, or curated around a very clear and compelling motif. Here, we take a look at some of the fairs’ must-click booths.

Toronto gallery Cooper Cole has opted for an impactful two-artist, six-work presentation that highlights formal and thematic parallels between Tau Lewis’s textile assemblages and

“Through their respective processes, these artists imbue their sculptures with agency that travels with the works; they believe them to be bodies unto themselves,” said Simon Cole, the gallery’s founder and director. “This presentation reflects on Lewis and Ruais’s common concerns with materials, the narratives they carry, and their transformative potentials.”

 

To view the full post visit Artsy.

For more information about Tau Lewis and Brie Ruais please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com
+1.416.531.8000

G.B. Jones and Paul P. Featured on Art Viewer

October 8, 2020

G.B. Jones and Paul P. are featured on Art Viewer.

 

Artist: G.B. Jones and Paul P.

Exhibition title: Temple of Friendship

Venue: COOPER COLE, Toronto, Canada

Date: August 26 – October 3, 2020

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and COOPER COLE, Toronto

Cooper Cole is pleased to present Temple of Friendship, an exhibition of collaborative work by G.B. Jones and Paul P.

In their independent practices, both Jones and P. are well recognized as drafts-people who appropriate and reposition figurative images from queer history. Devoted to the act of archiving, as both a tool and a creative conceit, they have, over the past 18 years, assembled an oeuvre of collaborative cut-and-paste collages from their copious image banks. The exhibition is titled after Natalie Barney’s so-named Neoclassical folly situated in her Paris courtyard, in which she hosted a salon for the queer demimonde in the years before the First World War.

Jones and P. are interested in ungovernable sexualities and genders, and in the history of aesthetics forged by those who were compelled to communicate and represent themselves through innuendo and codes. While their collages dwell on the queer lineage of coded language in aesthetics and attitudes, they also posit the violent and retaliatory potential of these protagonists, utilizing images and references relating to riots in Toronto precipitated by police violence: in particular, those around the bathhouse raids in 1980, and during the G20 summit in 2010. Jones and P.’s mesh of uneasy images illustrate the immemorial (and still applicable) arc of their protagonists, whether anonymous and symbolic, infamous or famous. Out of the hostile climate of youth, their inchoate anger and longing drives them underground to places where pathos and wonder mix, after which they emerge self-aware and defiant; shocking, dazzling, confusing. Symbols of invention within a world of manipulation.

Temple of Friendship follows Born Yesterday, Jones and P.’s solo exhibition at Participant Inc., New York, in 2017.

G.B. Jones (b. 1965 Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada) has acquired international acclaim for her super-8 films, zines, and proto-Riot Grrrl band Fifth Column. Active since the early 1980s, her works are milestones in independent film, publishing, and art rock, respectively, and primary sources for what later became known as Queercore. Concurrently, Jones has always been a dedicated visual artist best known for all-female reprises of Tom of Finland’s drawings. By a simple twist, hers are images of liberation freed of the fascist tendencies at work in gay male culture. Her solo exhibitions include Cooper Cole, Toronto, 2018; Tom Of Finland, G.B. Jones, Daniel Buchholz, Cologne, 1993; Feature, New York, 1991. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including: Art After Stonewall, Grey Art Gallery and Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York, 2019; Coming to Power: 25 Years of Sexually X-Plicit Art by Women, Maccarone, New York, 2016; This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1990s, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2012; Coming To Power: 25 Years Of Sexually X-plicit Art By Women, David Zwirner, New York, curated by Ellen Kantor, 1993. Jones lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Paul P. (b. 1977, Canada), who first came to attention in the early 2000s, has developed a wide-ranging practice centered on a series of drawings and paintings of young men appropriated from pre-AIDS gay erotica. His solo exhibitions include Morena di Luna/Maureen Paley, Hove, UK (2020); Queer Thoughts, New York, USA (2019); Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico (2019); Scrap Metal, Toronto, Canada (2015); and The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2007). His group exhibitions include Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); Les paris sont ouverts, Freud Museum, London (2011); and Compass in Hand, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009). P.’s work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Whitney Museum, among others.

Paul P. wishes to acknowledge the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council.

 

To view the full article please visit Art Viewer.

For more information about G.B. Jones and Paul P. please contact the gallery:

info@coopercolegallery.com

+1.416.531.8000

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