Terri Fidelak at the Estevan Art Gallery, Estevan, SK
“Nothing should be thrown away in case it becomes useful one day.” This was a credo at the family farm in Southeast Saskatchewan where artist Terri Fidelak grew up. I sense the same impulse in her magpie’s hoard of sculptures on display at the Estevan Art Gallery, though “sculpture” seems too rigid a term to describe these unlikely agglomerations of materials. Sequins unpicked from garments and strung into garlands, unfolded leatherette wallets, ancient discs of makeup in oxidized compacts, and dozens of other objects bearing the traces of bodies and former lives that have rubbed up against them: these thrifted components deftly sidestep assimilation into a sculptural whole.
Fidelak’s solo exhibition at this small municipal gallery south of Regina near the border of North Dakota is as slippery as its fortune-cookie cypher of a title suggests: the quality of your involvement will be the measure of your reward. What is the quality of my involvement? I direct my glance to a conventional arrangement of a flower pot sprouting tendrils of grass. The illusion of banality evaporates upon further examination: the pot is a coil of yellowed party streamers enfolding wisps of deconstructed feather, all resting on a scroll of birch bark.
Fifteen or more assemblages sit atop a chin-height, splay-legged table. Crepe paper streamers have been pinched, squeezed and pulled into pots, peaks, and funnels the way a potter manipulates a plug of whirling clay. Everywhere bewitching bits of discarded glamour nestle within crepe paper folds and divots. A moat of glitter surrounds a Pana-Vue slide balanced on a crinkled paper cone. A passage of pulpy frills reveals a rewarding sight like a spyglass: a mound of gold flakes or my face reflected in a mirror. These things didn’t become useful one day. They became something better: useless.
Sandee Moore is a nationally exhibited artist, arts administrator, and occasional art writer. She can be followed on Twitter @SandeeMoore.