Art Gallery of Burlington Winter 2024 Exhibitions

The Art Gallery of Burlington (AGB) winter exhibition series opens Thursday, January 18, 6:30–8:00 pm featuring work by curator Suzanne Morrissette and artists KC Adams, Anong Beam, Panya Clark Espinal, Melissa General, Dana Prieto, Krista Belle Stewart, Jeremy Laing, and José Luis Torres.

KC Adams, Nibi Performance, 2023. Seven Indigenous clay vessels, seven red willow wreaths, midi sound equipment, Bose speaker. Courtesy of the artist.

Using materials sourced from the earth, artists KC Adams, Anong Beam, Panya Clark Espinal, Melissa General, Krista Belle Stewart, and Dana Prieto share site-specific knowledge about kinship and generational relations, industry, and settlement in How can I know you? Curated by Suzanne Morrissette this exhibition puts these artists in dialogue with one another from January 19 – April 28, 2024, relating to social and political histories tied to settler nationalism and institutions, and about Indigenous territories.

How can I know you? is a question that comes from a comment artist Panya Clark Espinal shared with Suzanne Morrissette during a studio visit. It is a question that Clark Espinal asks of her materials, both as a way of coming to know them, as well as coming to know people, place, and history through the act of engaging with materials. It is a question that supposes the liveliness and agency of these materials and their capacity to share and convey knowledge.

This question guides the exhibition with a suggestion that the way we learn imparts an opportunity of acquaintance with possibility. It suggests that one’s approach to getting to know someone, or something, can influence the nature of that future relationship and the degree to which we are able to acknowledge and validate that which lies outside of our own experiences. Thinking about art practices that highlight the animacy of clay and land-based materials can, in this way, support a discussion about how we understand relationships between human and non-human beings, and the unique social and political contexts in which we are not only situated but with which we are in relation. This is an ethic of learning that is rooted in understandings of the animacy of the land and of our own states of belonging, of being out-of-place, or, of being in complex relations of power and history in an ever-changing world.

How can I know you? is accompanied by hands-on learning with land-based material practices including a clay workshop with KC Adams, an introduction to soil-based crayons with Dana Prieto, and paint making workshop with Anong Beam.

Jeremy Laing, 2023

Jeremy Laing’s Stockroom from January 19 – April 7, 2024 pulls from the hidden spaces of the gallery. It calls from the quiet resolve of the back room, the storage space, the depository. It recalls the space where one stores or ignores the archive (the lesser archive, the lower archive), the space that holds the administrative reserves, the reams of paper, the ink cartages, the publications, the outdated marketing material. It is a hiding place. A dormant space. A forgotten space. It is a secondhand container for the everyday, for the things that are to be disregarded but not discarded, the things that are outdated but not obsolete.

Jeremy uses the AGB’s physical facilities as raw material. They push against, and yield to, the architectural constraints of the Perry Gallery—the lighting, ceiling tiles, stonework, and sliding glass doors—and draws from the material available in the AGB’s storage rooms. Here, they create a new stockroom, a sympathetic stockroom, a stockroom which is now a showroom, starring the previously mundane.

Stockroom draws attention to the oddities, the excess, the obsolete. It is a new container for how we might “see” and “use” these invisible items. The objects on display are choreographed as an epistle of and to craft. Assemblages of tapestries, vessels, and found objects become the tools for social architecture. The space is cut with screens and fabric shrouds, allowing us to peer into the storage room and view the things that lie waiting to be made useful again.

José Luis Torres, Transition, 2023. Wood, metal, glass, and plastics. Courtesy of the artist. Photo credit: José Luis Torres.

Last year AGB embarked on a three-year journey to build a living room in the gallery. To start we transformed the Lakeshore Gallery into the Living Library, a year-long initiative with rotating and overlapping artists and authors’ projects, which provided free access to events, a makerspace, books, and room to sprawl. Like a library, it encouraged the exchange of a broad range of human knowledge, experience, traditions, and ideas in a welcoming and supportive environment. It promoted the sharing of resources and stories through resting, writing, reading, listening, and looking.

We’re taking what we learned in the Living Library and putting it to the test with a second year-long engagement the Living Lab. Opening February 2024, artist José Luis TorresThe place as an object and the object as a place takes over the lab as a platform for organic, spontaneous exploration, creation, and exhibition. Jose uses every day, provisional materials mixed with second-hand goods to build portals for future actions and sharing. This public commons project co-curated by Suzanne Carte and Jasmine Mander will build upon the intra-community connections formed in the first phase. We see this space as a reflection of our community and will be bringing in participants to co-design programming and activities. Over the course of the year the project will partner community organizations with artists to create a series of workshops, talks, craft-circles, demonstrations, and manifestations to construct a cabinet of curiosities.

The AGB is generously supported by the City of Burlington, 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.

How can I know you? has been supported by Kiiwatin Oskapiywis Studio, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

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