Maria Simmons: Anoxic Memory

Installation View of Maria Simmons, Eating the Swamp, Mustarinda, Hyrynsalmi, Finland, 2022

Maria Simmons
Anoxic Memory

Exhibition Dates: February 4 – April 23, 2023
Opening Reception + Artist Talk: Saturday, February 11, 2 – 4 PM
Toronto Shuttle Bus: Saturday, February 11. Pickup from Factory Theatre at 12 PM. Return departure from the VAC at 3:30 PM.

The Visual Arts Centre of Clarington (VAC) is pleased to announce our inaugural exhibition of the 2023 season, Maria Simmons’ Anoxic Memory.

Researcher and poet Abbi Flint once described peatlands as places of contestation and contradiction. From the dangerous to the health-restoring, the real to the imagined, the extractable to the preserved—our past and present are entangled in the mire. Canada houses 25% of the world’s peatlands, storing its highest density of these carbon-rich landscapes across Northern Ontario. Simmons works to unravel these ideas by transforming the VAC into an active peat mire, reimagining the bog’s primary three strata, one per floor of the gallery: Anoxic, Oxic, and Atmospheric.

Visitors are invited to traverse the bog, discovering the natural biology and fantastical mythos found among its layers. Fermentation becomes a powerful force in this context—a preservation agent that parallels the anaerobic underbellies of Canadian peatlands. What is fermented and changed then has the potential to remain. Found artifacts are pressurized and preserved in the anoxic strata—fermenting, off-gassing, feeding, and becoming new. They are in relationship and in flux. Sounds erupt from the oxic layer, an otherworldly call pulling viewers to the atmospheric surface where sculptural ponds of brine and plantlife glimmer in the sunlight.

Exhibition Programming

The VAC invites you to attend our Opening Reception on Saturday, February 11, 2023, from 2 – 4 PM. Simmons and curator Megan Kammerer will lead an Artist Talk from 2 – 3 PM. Light refreshments will be provided, including mead fermentations produced from the exhibition’s living artworks.

Visitors from Toronto are invited to take a free shuttle bus to the VAC, departing from Factory Theatre at 12 PM on Saturday, February 11, 2023. Registration for the shuttle bus is required. Visit our events page for more details.

About the Artist

Maria Simmons (she/they) is a hybrid artist who investigates potentialized environments through the creation of hybrid sculptures and installations. Their work embraces contamination as an act of collaboration. They collect garbage, grow mushrooms, ferment plants, and nurture fruit flies. They make art that eats itself. Simmons holds an MFA from the University of Waterloo and a BFA from McMaster University. Simmons has recently exhibited with Trinity Square Video, Centre3, Xpace, and The Plumb. They completed residencies at Mustarinda (Finland), BioArt Society (Finland), Silent Barn (USA), and Factory Media Centre (Canada).

The VAC is a partially accessible venue with an accessible washroom. The front entrance can be accessed by a ramp and an outward-opening door (please note that we do not have an automatic door opener). Please note that the Loft Gallery is located on the third floor of the VAC with restricted access by four flights of stairs equipped with a handrail. An elevator is not installed in the building to access the Loft Gallery at this time. Accessible parking is available on site. For any special assistance or queries about the venue, please call or email us. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Visual Arts Centre of Clarington, 143 Simpson Avenue, Bowmanville, Ontario, L1C 2H9
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Anoxic Memory is organized by the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington with the support of the Ontario Arts Council.