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Nancy Anne McPhee - Still Life with Flowers

February 10 - March 4
Closing Reception March 4, 2-5 pm

The use of stripes has long been an entrée into parallel lives and worlds, a sleight-of-hand that sows confusion and disrupts perspective so that a person or thing may hide in plain view. As the traditional, striped prisoner’s uniform announces the wearer’s citizenship in a shadow-world of confinement and social censure, the Napoleonic “breton shirt” once designated the imperial naval seaman’s nautical world, with its peculiar traditions, global reach and certain peril. Similarly, First World War Allied fleets used zebra-like “dazzle” camouflage not to conceal but to compel enemy mariners and airmen to draw false assumptions about make, speed and trajectory.

Visual artist Nancy Anne McPhee works in this tradition, using stripes, pattern and illusion to immerse visitors in experiential situations in which the optical field is completely enveloped and continually active. Here, the room’s four high walls are fitted out in black-and-white striped wallpaper. Upon each wall is a symbolic vanitas motif, drawn from still-life painting, rendered in commercial wallpaper: a vase and flowers (time/transience), a lobster (decadence), candle (impermanence) and a skull (death). Of these motifs, some are presented in black-and-white stripes, others (the lobster, the flowers) in bright hues.

The result is visually imposing, monumental, yet also ludic, setting the visitor off balance amidst a visual “buzz” created by the sense of pervasive movement. Her visual field taken up entirely by the ubiquitous stripes, the visitor is invited, through the vanitas motifs, to reflect upon certain elements of the human condition (transience, decadence, impermanence, death), which, though always with us, are relegated in our corporatist, consumerist society to an alternate, unspoken realm of abbreviation or elision.

Biography
Nancy Anne McPhee is an installation artist originally from Alberta and now based in Hamilton, ON. McPhee has a BFA from the University of Victoria, an MFA from Concordia University, and an MLIS from Dalhousie University. She has worked as an instructor at Concordia University and NSCAD University. McPhee has exhibited nationally and internationally in commercial galleries, artist-run centres and public galleries, and has received funding from the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. Upcoming solo exhibitions include Agnes Jamieson Gallery (ON) and Grenfell Campus Art Gallery (NL). She can be found at nancyannemcphee.com and @nancyannemcphee


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The Assembly
4 Cannon St E
Hamilton, ON
L8L 1Z5
assemblygallery.ca
Gallery hours: Friday-Saturday 12-5 pm, 7-10 pm Art Crawl, by appointment or chance

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