Art Gallery of Burlington Summer 2023 Exhibitions

Akash Inbakumar, Era of the Moon: Phases (detail), 2023. Woven textile. Photo: Emi Takahashi

The AGB opens The Weight of Clay – 40 Years of the Collection and Akash Inbakumar’s Era of the Moon: Phases with a reception on Thursday, June 15, 6:30–8:00 pm.

Akash Inbakumar’s Era of the Moon: Phases opens with a performance on the full moon in Sagittarius on the shores of Lake Ontario on Sunday June 4, 6 – 7:00 pm. Featuring Akash Inbakumar (dancer), Sofi Gudiño (choreographer/dancer) and Cindy Adhiambo Ochieng (DJ/composer), the dance-work connects the wearable textiles in the exhibition to the natural rhythm and cycles of the moon through the bodies of two dancers as they orbit each other, waxing and waning, mirroring the shape of the planet as it gradually changes between the four major phases.

Era of the Moon: Phases connects the body to the cyclical nature of the moon and its tidal lock to the earth. Looking up to the celestial body we see its phases through the dark and light chasing one another. Through textile exploration Akash honours the internal dance between these two polarities and investigates the potency of the in-between.

Akash Inbakumar is a Tamil-Singalese Canadian artist based in Tkaronto. Their interdisciplinary practice uses installation, costumes, and performance to explore ideas of world-building, mythology, and kinship; entering partnerships with multiple mediums, tools, and processes, they conceive material-kin. These kin represent a world where craft objects play the role of carrying family lineage and storyteller, queering the idea of how information can be passed down multi-generational/multi-species networks.

Sunmi Jung, Dinner Table, 1993. Hand built low fire talc-based clay, commercial glazes. 1995.054.0.1 Purchased through a donation from The Pioneer Group Inc. 1995

How heavy is the weight of clay?

Over the last forty years, the AGB has amassed the largest comprehensive collection of contemporary Canadian ceramics in the world, totaling more than 4,000 works. This year, we celebrate the anniversary with The Weight of Clay, an exhibition and programming series honouring the artists, curators, educators, volunteers, and donors who have built the gallery’s holdings and contributed to the intellectual growth of ceramics in the country.

From June 16 to October 8, 2023, in the Lee-Chin Family Gallery, The Weight of Clay presents a broad selection of work in the collection, ranging from functional ware to sculptural installations that illustrate the intersection of technical proficiency and artistic expression, by artists from across the country. The exhibition is not an encyclopedic survey but a more intimate and personal approach to the collection’s history, told via the testimonials, stories, archives, and energies of the artists, curators, gallery staff, collectors, committee members, and clay communities who have, over the decades, demonstrated that the collection truly is a sum of its parts.

At the center of the exhibition is the selection of forty works by forty artists representing each year in our forty-year history. Looking at the archive of work from 1983 to 2023, the AGB’s Curator Emeritus, Jonathan Smith, compiled a chronological timeline of works illustrating the growth of the collection. From Jim Hong Louie to Brendan Lee Satish Tang, the assembly of works reflects a history of burgeoning techniques and the rise of clay in the country.

The exhibition’s public programming series is a platform to investigate some of these questions, and more. The AGB is dedicated to contemporary craft discourse and remains an open space for critical dialogue on disentangling the binary of craft disciplines and contemporary art practices. We invest in our regional and national craft communities and support robust conversations that sustain academic and practical interdisciplinary systems through events, workshops, demonstrations, tours, and discussions on the collection’s dual preoccupation with contemporary art and craft. Together with Magdolene Dykstra, Rachel Gotlieb, Steve Heinemann, Bruce Cochrane, Jess Riva Cooper, Sami Tsang, Mariana Bolaños Inclán, Brian Kohl, and Linda Swanson we discuss the potency of clay pasts, presents, and futures.

At the AGB, learning is in the making. Through hands-on workshops and courses, clay artists can build a greater personal connection to their craft and experience professional growth by learning new techniques, discovering other artists’ practices, and understanding contemporary art in greater depth. This season we learn and make alongside artists Heather Kuzyk, Barbara Taylor, Nikola Wojewoda, Laura Hewson, Silvana Michetti, Karla Rivera, Michelle Lynn, Eiko Maeda, Nicole Levaque, Dana Dallal, Lindsay Montgomery, Chiedza Pasipanodya, and Danica Drago. Registration is required for public programs and studio events.

The weight of history is heavy, but the AGB’s collection is agile. We look forward to expanding the future possibilities of clay and our relationship to it.

The Contributing Sponsor for The Weight of Clay exhibition is RBC Dominion Securities Inc. The AGB is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Canada Council for the Arts. AGB’s learning programming has been generously supported by The Burlington Foundation and the incite Foundation for the Arts. The archival digitization was made possible by the Halton Region Heritage Services.

The collection digitization project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada through the Museum Assistant Program, the City of Burlington’s Burlington 150+ Fund, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities Fund.

Art Gallery of Burlington is proud to acknowledge that the land where it is located is part of the Dish With One Spoon Treaty and the Brant Tract Purchase, Treaty No. 3 3/4 of 1795, and we are grateful to the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Six Nations of the Grand River for sharing this territory.

1333 Lakeshore Road Burlington, ON L7S 1A9