José Luis Torres | Sharl G. Smith | Natalie Hunter

University of Waterloo Art Gallery

September 14 – December 9, 2023
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 14, 5-8 pm

José Luis Torres
Material Culture

José Luis Torres’ sculptural work focuses on materiality and the ways in which readymade items can be manipulated to create visually dense immersive environments. Material Culture is a site-specific installation featuring an accumulation of colourful items alternately sourced on campus, thrifted, donated, purchased on Kijiji, and from retailers such as Princess Auto and Dollarama. Suspended in the gallery, the disparate rainbow of objects functions as a kaleidoscopic canopy that celebrates and critiques consumerism in equal measure. Torres’ work uses our familiarity with these domestic, institutional, and recreational items as a way of elevating our appreciation of the everyday, while also inviting us to consider the problematic status of consumer culture: our knack for accumulating stuff, and the growing complexities surrounding the storage, recycling, and disposal of the surplus goods we accumulate.

Born in Argentina, José Luis Torres has lived and worked in Quebec since 2003. He has exhibited site-specific installations and sculpture across Quebec, Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia. His work has recently been featured in major festivals including the Festival international de jardins of the Jardins de Métis, the Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine in Trois-Rivières, CAFKA.14–Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener + Area, the Symposium d’art contemporain in Baie-Saint-Paul, Art in the Open Festival in Charlottetown, and Festival des Architectures Vives in Montpellier, France. In 2021, he was awarded the title of Personnalité Arts et Culture by the organization Culture Capitale-Nationale et Chaudière-Appalaches. Artist website

Sharl G. Smith
Shelter II

Shelter II is a large-scale beaded sculpture that ambitiously expands on the artist’s beadwork practice. Over the last two years, Smith has radically up-scaled her process applying weaving techniques employed in glass bead-stitching to create a sculpture incorporating hundreds of grapefruit-sized metal beads tensioned together using steel cable. The end result is a gargantuan beadwork that has immense physical presence and a surface that slyly reflects and distorts its surroundings. While building on the artist’s training in architecture, Shelter II is also a rebuke to the dismissal of beading as “women’s work” within the context of a patriarchal Western art history rather than as a viable and transgressive art form in its own right.

Sharl G. Smith was born and raised in Jamaica and is based in Waterloo, Ontario. She obtained her Bachelor of Architecture in 2003 and spent over a decade working as a designer and architectural professional in the United States. Moving to Canada in 2015, she became a full-time artist and proprietor of Sun Drops Studio. Shelter II debuted at the Grimsby Public Art Gallery earlier this year, and the artist is also exhibiting as part of a two-person exhibition with Barry Ace titled Beyond the Bead at the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery. Shelter II was made possible by the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Waterloo Region Arts Fund. ​Artist website

Natalie Hunter
Crystal Image, a memory of leaves and light

UWAG entrance, East Campus Hall

Crystal Image, a memory of leaves and light was commissioned for the window space above the East Campus Hall (ECH) entrance to UWAG. Photographing the architecture and landscaping around ECH using 120mm film, Hunter processed a series of three photographic transparencies that she describes as “slow cinema”. Over the course of the day the passage of light further activates the saturated colours of these transparencies, casting ephemeral coloured shadows onto the walls and floor of the long corridor adjacent to the gallery. This effect subtly animates the institutional space that students, staff, and visitors routinely walk through but otherwise take for granted. Crystal Image, a memory of leaves and light softens this otherwise hard architectural interior, inviting us to pause and reflect on the built environment that we inhabit.

Natalie Hunter is from Hamilton, Ontario and completed her MFA at the University of Waterloo. Working between photography, installation, and moving image, she is known for her multilayered photo-based installations featuring colour imagery on transparent film. She has shown her work across Canada and has had recent exhibitions at The Reach Gallery Museum, Hamilton Winterfest, University of Manitoba School of Arts Gallery, Latcham Art Centre, Centre[3] for Artistic and Social Practice, and Rodman Hall Arts Centre. She is the recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and is a sessional instructor in Fine Arts at the University of Waterloo. Artist website

University of Waterloo Art Gallery
East Campus Hall, Room 1239
519.888.4567 ext. 33575

Ivan Jurakic, Director/Curator
519.888.4567 ext. 46741

Wednesday to Saturday 12-5 pm
Or by appointment

Ground floor entry
Automated doors available at Fine Arts entrance
Wide pathways
Accessible washrooms on ground level

263 Phillip Street, Waterloo
East Campus Hall (ECH) is located adjacent to Engineering 6 (E6)
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Visitor Parking is available in Lot B beside Engineering 6 (E6) for a flat rate of $5
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University of Waterloo Art Gallery
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1

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Image Credits (top to bottom): José Luis Torres, Kaleidoscope I (detail), Strawberry Art Festival, Shanghai and Chengdu, China, 2019, readymade plastic chairs composed on a scaffold. Photo courtesy the artist. Image description: A close-cropped image of a mass of brightly coloured plastic chairs heaped together. Sharl G. Smith, Shelter II (detail), 2023, metal beads, steel cable. Photo courtesy of UWAG. Image description: A close-up of the surface of a tightly beaded sculpture made of silver metallic beads. Natalie Hunter, Crystal Image, a memory of leaves and light (detail), 2023, colour photographs on transparent vinyl from 120mm negatives. Photo courtesy the artist. Image description: Abstracted image of architecture and a tree canopy in a gradient of warm colours.