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Tom Benner

Call of the Wild in the Main Gallery
January 23, 2014 to May 31, 2014

Call of the Wild is the Art Gallery of Algoma's newest exhibition. Call of the Wild features a selection of works that explore our relationship to the natural world and which span the breadth of Benner's long career. The sculptural works are often scale creations fabricated from metal, fibreglass, leather, wood, paper and found objects, and although each is strongly rooted within a tradition of narrative and story-telling, they are equally concerned with materiality. Hand-crafted, visibly shaped, Benner's cross-disciplinary approach to his work makes use of drawing, painting, printmaking, installation and sculpture.

Extermination is a central theme within many of Benner's works including his watershed work Hanging Fin (Whale) (1983) and more recently in works such as Orca (2006) and Shrines (2010). Many works also explore the histories of Aboriginal peoples in North America. Tecumseh (1994-95), for example, a mixed media installation pays homage to the Shawnee chief's attempt to unite fifteen tribes against the Americans with the aim of forming a distinct Aboriginal confederation. Despite the politically charged content, Benner avoids making judgement, rather, by grounding the work within his historical research, he allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions. As writer Joan Murray proclaimed in her 1999 publication Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century "Benner has transformed history into an imaginary landscape, one that is bleak but offers a timely perspective – physical, political and mental. In a way Tom Benner is characteristic of Canadian artists today, speculative as they venture into familiar – and unfamiliar – territory."

"This exhibition is made possible in part by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council's Ontario Touring program."

"Cette exposition est rendue possible en partie grâce à l'appui financier du programme des tournées ontariennes du Conseil des arts de l'Ontario."

About the Artist

Born and raised in London, Ontario, Tom Benner has been a practising artist since receiving his special Arts Diploma from the Beal art program at H.B. Beal Secondary School in 1969. His work has been exhibited widely across North America. Since the early 1980s, Benner's artistic attentions have explored the relationship between human beings and nature and have continued to involve a sustained exploration of the environment, of history and of the land. Additional information may be found on the artist's website at

Mixed Media Installation, Regrowth, Twyla Exner, 2004.

Twyla Exner
Systems & Things in the Education Gallery
November 7, 2013 to February 22, 2014
Electrical Field Community Workshop January 18, 2014 11am-3pm

The Art Gallery of Algoma is pleased to host Systems & Things, a solo exhibition by Twyla Exner. Of her process, Exner says "I am inspired by the materials and images that comprise electronics and the idea of a sublime technological landscape wherein our companion electronic devices go awry, spawning and evolving like biological organisms. I like to work with a variety of mediums, materials and objects and prefer hands-on, labour-intensive processes that allow me to learn my material and feel involved with its history and contextual significance."

In an excerpt from her statement of studio research she writes, "Instead of exploring connections between individuals, objects and the digiscape through functional electronic technologies as a new media artist, I work with low-tech methods and draw from historical techniques to manipulate obsolete electronic materials. Post-consumer telephone wires and electronic components provide the raw materials for my artworks. The processes of weaving, throwing pots, drawing and sewing provide new life through the human touch and incline these mechanisms toward technomorphism. The use of the multiple and organic forms that reference bodily organs, plants, bacteria, animals and molecules give independence to the creations, implying that they are reproducing, growing and creating a new home of the transformable space of the gallery."

About the Artist:

Exner is a Prince Albert, Saskatchewan-based artist and arts educator. She studied visual art in both Regina and Montreal, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the University of Regina (2004) and a Masters of Fine Arts in studio arts from Concordia University (2010). For more information about Twyla Exner and her work visit her website at

Still from video entitled, Walking the Dog, Sarah Fortais, 2011.

Sarah Fortais
Uniforms for Everyday Rituals in the Project Room
December 20, 2013 to March 1, 2014

Sarah Fortais' Uniforms for Everyday Rituals presents 8 videos of a single character performing banal tasks in eccentric and cumbersome sculptural garments. The uniforms intentionally require the characters to navigate and complete activities while consciously working with the uniforms.

Fortais says that her work "presents a dialogue between the familiar and unfamiliar as experienced through sensual processes, while using this position of experience as a platform to more abstractly investigate interactions that both transform the perception of an object/activity/event and leave the object/activity/event physically unchanged."

Uniforms for Everyday Rituals, invites us to confront the conformity that we personally and often unconsciously experience in areas like fashion and trend in our daily lives. When absurd and cumbersome cultural 'rituals' become readily absorbed and go unquestioned, a simple act of wearing a motorcycle helmet covered in sparkly dinosaurs or refusing to shave one's legs may result in anxiety or alienation. Whilst presenting these situations, Fortais challenges us to reflect upon the value of what is 'normal'.

About the Artist:

Sarah Fortais grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. She earned her BFA from the University of Western Ontario in 2011 and her MFA from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London in London England in 2013. She is currently completing a Practice-Led PhD at the Slade School of Fine Art and writing a book about coolness as a form of value judgement.

Still from video entitled, Walking the Dog, Sarah Fortais, 2011.

Art Gallery of Algoma

10 East St. Sault Ste. Marie ON P6A 3C3
Tuesday – Saturday 9am -5pm
(705) 949-9067
Facebook  @ArtAlgoma

Media Inquiries:
Jasmina Jovanovic
Executive Director
Art Gallery of Algoma
10 East St. Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 3C3
(705) 949-9067





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