David Ferguson: It’s a Circus in There

Wheel of Fortune, 46” diameter interactive wall-mounted wheel, photo by artist

David Ferguson
It’s a Circus in There

July 2 – 29, 2023
Opening Reception: July 6, 7:30pm
Art Gallery of Bancroft

Artist Statement about It’s a Circus in There:
Traumatic experiences have provided evidence that experience leads to changes in genetic expression. We now see epigenetic changes transmitted to the next generation as with inter-generational trauma. Experiencing art that supports or challenges culture is a similar process that could conceivably have similar effects. Although evaluating those effects is outside of the scope of this work, I think that greater understanding and awareness of how we function will lead to better decisions and outcomes for our species. To that end, and to understand better my own circumstances, I make installations with fine woodwork and word art, aspiring to increase awareness and understanding of our nature.

It’s a Circus in There is built around Tabula Rasa and the Seats of Privilege. The eight seats represent eight positions of power and privilege around Tabula Rasa. This table with legs named entropy, radiation, consciousness, and gravity has the words for the senses weaving like a runner across the length of the table. It makes an empirical representation of the world. The room is furnished with other work that raises related issues and concepts. The Hall of Mirrors investigates consciousness; Tower of Babel introduces the new media; the Goals and Dreams Dartboard gives chance its due; the Time Keepers evoke immediacy and timetables; and the Coffers of Systems classify and organize systems and concepts. These other aspects of existence crowd the privileged seating, questioning even the empiricism of Tabula Rasa. The Greatest Show on Earth, never-ending, and replete with mysteries, daring leaps of faith, astounding transformations, emotional storms, and flights of logic and fantasy is right here, in our minds.

Tower of Babel floor lamp 9’ tall, photo by artist

Reading “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman aroused my curiosity about the ideas and evidence of cognitive and behavioural biases. When I encounter ideas and concepts that excite me, I imagine presenting them in three dimensions. I work in wood crafting furnishings and functional artifacts to provide a solid base. If the artifact I make is engaging because of the design and finish, the ideas and concepts embedded in the furnishings become more accessible, moving the experience from a purely intellectual one into the lived environment. The solidity of the work supports the validity and the functionality reinforces the viability of the concepts.

Using wood keeps me closer to my ecological principles. In addition to the inherent beauty, it is organic and renewable. It is a traditional material for furniture and I find pleasure in discovering form and pattern in it. Some of the material I use comes from trees harvested from my small managed forest and most is sourced locally. The workshop I use is off-grid, powered largely by solar power and heated, unsurprisingly by wood fires.

2 Seats of Privilege and Us/Them coffee table, photo by the artist

Watch a video of the Seats of Privilege at Wildewood Gallery, 2022

About the Artist:

After graduating from Ryerson’s media studies program, David Ferguson exhibited photography in Canada’s public art galleries. He was concerned with the nature of representation and meaning, then with a desire to understand why we were changing the environment and climate as we were. Still life/tableau photography was his medium. He stopped exhibiting photography but continued to work in Toronto galleries as an installer. He became involved with the Art Gallery of Bancroft after moving to a semi-remote area near Bancroft to build an off-grid, passive solar home, studio, and workshop. David was instrumental in the considerable growth of that organization for 8 years, serving as president for a 2-year term, and currently sits on the board of directors. During this same period, he was practicing the craft of making things of wood. For 5 years this work was exhibited on the Bancroft and Area Studio tour. David felt challenged to make his woodwork more expressive and now finds that by working conceptually with text and design elements in an installation format he can address, more literally, some of the issues he approached with photographs.

At ground level David lives off-grid, growing and harvesting some of his own food and fuel. He continues to help with the food banks and the nonprofits in his locale and has a board position with Harvest Hastings which is a county-wide, and county-supported, organization focused on helping producers from the land. Things of great concern to him are the inequities of lived experience and food insecurity, entwined as they are with the challenges to the environment and the socio/political/economic structures. Those issues and a curiosity about cognitive and behavioural biases inform David’s work along with hope for positive change.

david@dferguson.ca | Instagram @davidferguson5303

Art Gallery of Bancroft
10 Flint St.
Bancroft, ON

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Accessibility: The Art Gallery of Bancroft is partially accessible

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