Up Front w/ Women at Jarvis Hall Gallery, Calgary
By Maeve Hanna
As I walked into the front alcove gallery at Jarvis Hall this past Friday night, I entered a space dedicated to women artists. Opening just ahead of International Women’s Day and on the heels of JHG’s 10th anniversary, this selection of works was a delight to engage with, not only because Gallery Director Shannon Norberg champions the work of women artists at a time when gender parity is ever more prescient. Up Front w/ Women includes a resplendent selection of work that dazzles and whets the appetite of art collectors, aficionados, and visitors alike. The pieces are optically and aesthetically compelling, confident, even brazen. It is the work of upfront women: women who take chances and risks, women who work tirelessly but masterfully in their field, women who contribute to the changing landscape of contemporary Canadian art.
In Wants and Leaves Once More and Leave It, two elegant abstract paintings by Larissa Tiggelers, the sharp edges of shapes slice across the canvas; the paintings are crisp and controlled, exploring the relationship between colours and shapes while playing with the intersection between abstraction and minimalism. Lake Shadow Puppets, a large painting by Rachel MacFarlane, elegantly depicts a deep and dark palette that resonates with the depth of our despair around our eroding environment. British artist Erica Eyres’ ceramic piece Cigarette smolders on a tiny shelf, so realistic you can almost smell the acrid nicotine smoke. My Fuzzy Socks by Yvonne Mullock sits atop a plinth folded at the ankles. They look ready-to-wear when in fact they are made of porcelain – the definition of delicacy and even femininity itself.
The selection in Up Front w/ Women speaks to the varied practices of many of the women artists that Jarvis Hall represents. What really struck me was the correlation and dialogue between the works. Their materiality and concerns crisscrossed the space to create an exhibition of tensions and potential discussions.
Maeve Hanna is a writer and curator who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours in Visual Art and Literature from York University and the University of Leeds and a Master of Arts in Art History and Icelandic Studies from Université du Québec à Montréal and the University of Manitoba on location in Iceland. She has previously written for Black Flash, C Magazine, Canadian Art, esse arts + opinions, Frieze, Sculpture Magazine, and the Senses and Society. She is Akimblog’s Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @maeve_hanna.