Marigold Santos. light as a feather, stiff as a board (2), 2011. Watercolor, acrylic, fluorescent paint, pigment, gold leaf on canvas. Photo: Guy l’Heureux. Courtesy of Parisian Laundry.

Other Worlds

Robyn Cumming, Ian Carr-Harris, Marigold Santos and Carol Wainio

September 21–December 29, 2013

Curated by Patrick Macaulay



Writers use language to create meaning. Literature is a way to make sense of the world, or at least an attempt to heighten the enjoyment of human existence. The idea of poetic world-making suggests that reality is a construct of literature. Indeed the story or poem is the world. If reality is the result of narrative, then so too are the visual arts.

In Other Worlds, the artists all begin with the word. They take their inspiration from text to create works that augment and extend the literary wellspring. They develop what they have read to create Other Worlds.  The inspiration may come from children’s stories, fables, literary tomes or even the flotsam of Google. All the work is deeply rooted in the source, but the artists cast off what they deem no longer necessary; editing down to the essential ingredients. These artists use only the elements that have the greatest consequence. At first glance, many of these new works may not be overtly text based, but then this world – and Other Worlds – will always, in effect, originate with the word.


Ian Carr-Harris

I think we are always looking for a secret passage into the collapse of time and space, where anticipation, history and memory compress. As a child I discovered that the act of tracing enabled me to feel through my body that other world of encounter, the world of anticipation through which we move. Both the works in this exhibition employ light to trace a reading: the repetition of the word in Molly, the image of the flower in Narcissus.

To trace is to re-enact what we see, to make it familiar, and that is what my work attempts to do. If the present can only be enjoyed as a memory from the position of the future, the sensation I look for is in this respect an act of conflation, a form of beauty. I am drawn to beauty.

– Ian Carr-Harris

Ian Carr-Harris has exhibited nationally and internationally since 1971. Selected exhibitions include the Venice Biennale (1984), Documenta 8 (Kassel, Germany, 1987), the Sydney Biennale (Australia, 1990), Canadian Stories at the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation (Toronto, 2000-2002), and CONTINENTAL DRIFT Conceptual Art in Canada: The 1960s and 70s (Karlsruhe, Germany, 2013). In 2007, he was named a recipient of the Governor-General’s Awards in the Visual and Media Arts and in 2012 the recipient of the Life Achievement Award from the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts. He is represented by the Susan Hobbs Gallery (Toronto) and teaches at Ontario College of Art & Design University.


Robyn Cumming

I recently began collecting early colour lithographs from eBay of human eyeballs made with an ophthalmoscope – I cannot seem to get enough of these things. Each one looks like something else. I have them displayed on a shelf above a microsuede couch with a peach and cream marble pattern on it; the eyes look like both the veiny marble in the couch and a pair of Aztec book ends displayed nearby. They look like the texture on a pastel, hand-made vase I recently purchased and they also look like the small creases of my skin, which I can only see when I use a self-illuminated magnifying glass I bought from Lee Valley.

I suppose it’s the visual relationships between things that compel much of my practice and the ways in which categorization and archives can be born from seemingly disparate associations. It was only when working with these eyeball images in Photoshop, and zooming out, that their potential to become something else became apparent. I would zoom in and zoom out and the piece would go from something quite beautiful and sublime to something really goofy and sci-fi and reminiscent of all of the weird and cheesy things I love in movies and TV shows and all kinds of popular culture.

The Sculptural Cyclops Simulacrum was originally a photograph I staged and shot of mis-matched objects pulled together to make a singular form.  Each element had its own alluring quality that compelled me to marry it to another for a ludicrous result. The piece you see here is comprised of hand-made, large-scale versions of the tiny objects found in the original. Magnified and monstrous, they can no longer serve their original and intended use and instead become slapstick style props in a mortified façade.

– Robyn Cumming

Robyn Cumming is a Toronto-based artist and Associate Professor at Ryerson University. Her work has been exhibited, published and collected internationally. Her current work focuses on representation and accumulation with a recent emphasis on historical images gleaned from eBay.


Marigold Santos

In my practice, I explore the ways in which ideas of “self” can become multiple, fragmented, and dislocated and then re-invented and created through a reflection of what is considered “home.” Through my imagery, I seek to negotiate the narratives of past and present; in their re-telling and reconfiguring, they transform to become personal myth whose imagery functions in the fantastical and otherworldly. This is the realm of play where I situate my work.

In recent works, the fragmented and multiple self is investigated through a hybridization of Filipino and Western folklore, geological processes, weather systems, Canadian landscapes, decomposition and decay, and coincide with references to childhood games that attempt to connect and communicate with the supernatural to bring what is not of the home, into what is the home – suggesting boundaries crossed in favour of testing limits and gauging what to fear and belief, and how to make sense of the unknowable.

– Marigold Santos

Marigold Santos pursues an inter-disciplinary art practice involving drawn and printed works, sculpture, animation, and sound. She holds a BFA with Honours from the University of Calgary and an MFA from Concordia University in Montréal. She is a recipient of numerous awards such as the Concordia University Faculty of Fine Arts Fellowship and is a recipient of a grant from the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec. Upcoming projects include exhibitions at the ODD Gallery (Dawson City, Yukon) and Forest City Gallery (London, ON). She currently resides and practices in Montréal.


Carol Wainio

My work explores the role that painting may still play in opening up both a discursive and poetic space around history, material culture, narrative, globalization, reproduction, and various historical forms of representation, whether “high art” or vernacular. The paintings draw together references gathered from research in historical illustration (archives such as the Walter Benjamin Children’s Book Collection), early advertisements that relied on fairy tale, and archival or contemporary photography – investigating and re-staging past visual narratives of transformation and desire in contemporary situations which are not “long ago” so much as “far away.”

Exploring aspects of narrative convention, illustration, genre painting, mechanical or hand-copied reproduction and other material related to early books (decorative borders, marbled paper), the paintings explore narrative possibilities and limitations. Conventions, gestures, or framing devices common to both early illustration and 19th century studio photography are explored, as are animal/human hybrids – from the traditional “animal helper” of fairy tale to the satirical figures of JJ Grandville – to question both historical issues and contemporary concerns, such as our relationship to the environment.

– Carol Wainio

Carol Wainio has exhibited widely in Canada, including at the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and internationally at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Venice Biennale, the Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna in Bologna, and in the United States and China.

In Canada, her paintings are represented in major corporate, private, and public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal, Art Gallery of Ontario, Glenbow Museum (Calgary, AB) and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa. Wainio is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art (Toronto) and Trépanier Baer Gallery (Calgary).

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