Libby Hague: Every Heart can Grow Bigger: Make room

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Installation detail, woodcut, approx. 9.5 ft.high, 95 ft. overall size

Every Heart can Grow Bigger: Make room
Libby Hague’s immersive woodcut installation for the Odd Gallery

January 25 – March 6, 2020
Odd Gallery, Klondike Institute of Art & Culture, Dawson, Yukon

“The century of people helplessly seeing others, who were close to them, disappear over the horizon.”
– John Berger

This work is a response to global migration crises and the moral challenges they pose. As long as we have natural disasters and wars, we will have the displacement of people who are looking for safety and a better life. Where they land, they change local cultures. It is a world in flux with each person transformed at the point of contact and little achieved without community.
– L.H.

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Installation detail, woodcut, approx. 9.5 ft.high

Excerpt from exhibition brochure: Hearts along the shore, by Meg Walker

It can feel pitiless to think about art and overpowering atrocities in the same heartbeat. Or, it can feel compassionate and complex. Hague took that second route and formed Every Heart Can Grow Bigger: Make Room. The work is a generous opportunity for feeling and thinking through some of the overwhelm.

Hague’s lines are graceful and lithe throughout Every Heart Can Grow Bigger. Like a musician or poet, Hague uses repetition to loop and layer metaphors. Walking through, visitors pass paper bodies in motion: sprinting, skipping, melting, tripping. Early on, a woman freezes in four running poses. A guard with a gun walks confidently on her left and she sprints toward a man directly pointing a gun at her, though she hasn’t seen him yet.

This and similar sequences read like frames for a stop-motion animation. People, mostly women, are trying to move into safer lives, but so much is stacked to injure them.

Water, there’s so much water. Waterfalls, tides, tidal waves. Drops of water, tear drops turning into black rivers turning into waterfalls from ceiling to floor. Wavetop curls. Black puddles, possibly puddles of oil; some of them stretch sticky strands from running women’s feet.

Then come here-and-now rickety boats packed tight with tiny people waving for help. They try to move, hover over whitecaps that froth here with knots of barbed wire. Impassive and ornate as Hokusai’s Great Wave, the water simply doesn’t care.

In the gallery’s deepest corner hunch a rabbit, a fawn, a fox, a bear. The furred carefully watch what’s going on, wearing human-face masks in an attempt to understand our species. Or an attempt at camouflage? Their defence will be learning to avoid the careless behaviours of the ape-descendants.

Every Heart Can Grow Bigger: Make Room begins and ends with restful pastel scoop-clouds and people calmly conversing in trios or pairs. Throughout the show, connections are the only hope. It doesn’t necessarily save; several drowned paper people are lifted too late by someone who loves them. But some connections do.

Hague does not suggest that global conflict could end if we would only cooperate. Her part of public dialogue is to hold space for contemplating and processing some of the difficult truths, a space sustained within the opening words FOR BETTER OR WORSE and the closing, hopeful YES. BE KIND.

Meg Walker is an interdisciplinary visual artist and writer who lived coast to coast across Canada’s south until an artist residency in Dawson City introduced her to the Yukon. A decade later, she continues those pursuits with an ever-deepening passion for northern creativity and wilderness. And the wilderness needs care: average annual temperatures north of 60° have risen at about triple the global rate. It remains to be seen whether we’ll welcome climate refugees up here, or if we’ll be heading south for help.Website: megwalker.ca

ODD Gallery is a contemporary exhibition space housed in KIAC (Klondike Institute of Art & Culture / Dënäkär Zho) on the traditional and contemporary territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in peoples, in Dawson City, Yukon. ODD Gallery’s year-round programming features solo and group exhibitions by regional, national and international visual artists. The gallery also presents a wide array of outreach programming including artist talks, openings, lectures, screenings, youth programs, events and special projects. Gallery programming fosters professionalism and appreciation of regional visual arts practice and provides the community with exposure and access to a diverse range of national and international contemporary visual arts practices and theories in a remote, northern setting.

Accessible (ramp at rear entrance, washroom, elevator to additional level)

The ODD Gallery is currently accepting submissions for exhibitions in 2021: https://kiac.ca/odd-gallery/calls-for-submissions/

Contact:
Gallery Director Tara Rudnickas, tel.1-867-993-5005, email kiac@kiac.ca
Klondike Institute of Art & Culture
Bag 8000, Dawson, Yukon, YOB 1G0 Canada

This installation is adapted from two previous installations; the first at Gallery Stratford, curated by Angela Brayham, 2019 and the Karachi Biennale, 2019 curated by Muhammad Zeeshan.

Libby Hague would like to thank, Philip Anisman and the Dawson City artists who helped with the installation; Kim Edgar, Annie Kierans, Rian Lougheed-Smith, Charles Sheppard, and Gallery Director Tara Rudnickas.

Libby Hague would like to gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council for funding assistance with this installation.

www.libbyhague.com (to see installation photographs)

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