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April 29 - June 18, 2017
The present is hollow without a future aware of its past. Fifty years ago, the National Gallery hosted 51 artists in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. This exhibition broke new ground in defining what contemporary art could mean for a public looking to artists to help define a national historical narrative. That narrative continues to be defined today and Voices: artists on art presents a series of deeply insightful video interviews that give us a glimpse into the studios of 51 artists from subsequent generations currently working across Canada in 2017.
The inclusion of these eight vitrines in the exhibition provides the chance to pay homage to two outstanding artists who would have been interviewed had they not passed away before the project began. We would like to thank Yam Lau and Michael Klein respectively for agreeing to represent the work of Gordon Lebredt and Laurel Woodcock in two of the eight cases.
Just as importantly, the vitrines opened up the possibility of including works by six emerging Toronto-based artists whose work we have come to admire. The diversity of their practices and the intelligent clues they hold for defining the evolving nature of art provide an exciting glimpse into the vitality of contemporary art in this city and serve to extend the conversations at the heart of this exhibition.
– Yvonne Lammerich and Ian Carr-Harris
Swift Memorial is a response to international banks rejecting customers from countries facing sanctions over the past decade. These banks shut Iranian nationals and businesses out of the global financial system, which influenced Iranians in many ways, namely, the decrease of Iranian currency value that resulted in a sudden and unusual inflation in the country. Consequently, many Iranians have suffered from difficult economic conditions. This project is a play on value production, in this case, the value of a purse, which changes for clients based on their nationality.
– Sona Safaei-Sooreh
Sona Safaei-Sooreh is an Iranian–born artist based in Toronto. She holds a BSc from Azad University and a BFA from Ontario College of Art and Design University. Her practice is concept-driven and in many instances, it positions itself in discourses around literary theory, political economy, and institutional critique. She is a recent graduate of MVS program at the University of Toronto. Safaei-Sooreh has shown her work nationally and internationally in several museums and art spaces around the world.
Topology Optimization of an Heirloom is a sculptural work that intersects speculative design, Afrofuturism and personal histories. Through my work, I attempt to make a connection between my history, through a handed down mortar and pestle from Jamaica, made from the iron wood tree, and my view of future craft, using new technologies and materials.
– Stephen Surlin
Stephen Surlin works in multiple mediums including, 3D modeling and printing, sound design, and musical performance. His work and research often uses speculative design methodologies to imagine near futures that can influence our strategies in the present. Surlin is currently enrolled in McMaster University’s PhD programme in communication, new media and cultural studies, with a focus on creating archives using new media.
My practice includes sculpture and painting. I focus on acts of retracing. I draw reference from the neighbourhoods, people and places associated with the experience of living in a city and more specifically downtown. I make work to act as memory markers, many of which resemble theatrical props or backdrops. My intention is to record and display a sense of place, one that might outlive or survive the physical destruction of that place.
– Dylan Macaulay
Dylan Macaulay holds a BFA from Ontario College of Art and Design University. Macaulay currently lives and works in Toronto.
Jillian Kay Ross
Using the primary materials of rope and rivets, this work is a meditation on the necessary relationships I’ve made within our shared community.
– Jillian Kay Ross
Jillian Kay Ross received her BFA from OCAD University in 2011 and was awarded the Mrs. W.O. Forsyth Drawing and Painting Graduate Award. Her most recent exhibition was a solo show at Division Gallery, Most Dogs go to Heaven. Her work has been included in group and solo exhibitions across Toronto.
I maintain an object-based inventory that I am constantly supplementing. My work is in constant dialogue with materials, and it is from this dialogue that ideas are developed. My work takes the shape of large-scale installation, assemblage, and stand-alone sculpture. My approach is instinctively formal, often inspired by the logistical limitations inherent in maintaining a material inventory. My work does not always stem from preconceived ideas, but evolves out of my exposure to objects in my immediate environment. My studio is in a constant state of upheaval and supplementation; even ‘finished’ works are indefinitely in-progress.
– Georgia Dickie
Georgia Dickie graduated with a BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design University in 2011. Her work addresses the complexities of contemporary object-based practice and is characterized by a deep interest in found materials and their inherent limitations. She has participated in exhibitions including the United States, Europe and throughout Toronto.
Artwork courtesy of Cooper Cole, Toronto.
Francis Place uses the Harbourfront Centre vitrine as site for staging a short visual essay on the curious role the titular Place had in advancing workers rights and fostering radical political movements in the back room of his Charing Cross shop in the early 19th century. At the same time, Place found success in his storefront by way of using full-size glazed panes of glass in his store window. He is noted as the first to adapt what is now the standard in display window glass. The work draws upon a number of sources to meditate on a seemingly contradictory figure: a for-profit pro-labor radical who dreamed of an uninterrupted view for window shoppers everywhere.
– Liam Crockard
Since graduating from OCAD University in 2010, Liam Crockard has been building a multifaceted career of sculpture, collage and photography works examining the nature of work itself, with a particular emphasis on “jerry-rigging” and improvisation as both a symptom and a strategy for art-making and survival alike. He has had solo and group exhibitions participated in exhibitions including the United States, Europe, Mexico and Toronto. His work has been reviewed and published in Artforum, Canadian Art, Border Crossings, Elephant Magazine and the Toronto Star. He is currently co-director of The Loon in Toronto.