Quinn Smallboy: String Theory

Glenhyrst Art Gallery
31 August to 26 September, 2021


Quinn Smallboy, Sun (2020), nylon string on wood.

In this exhibition, artist Quinn Smallboy uses string and rope to examine Indigenous cultural objects, identity, and worldview. For Smallboy, string functions an aesthetic object and marker of negative space that prompts us to experience our surroundings in novel ways. Yet string also holds a close relationship to memory; it is a symbol or metaphor that helps us piece together abstract points in space and time that thread together the past. Smallboy’s work is heavily indebted to drawing and draughting. He approaches his installations as three-dimensional drawings that amplify and punctuate empty space with rhythmic lines of colour. The attempt to connect points on the wall, floor, or ceiling is frequently plagued with accidents that find the string slumping, curling, or falling in unforeseen ways. As such, Smallboy’s installations take on a renewed life that is noticeably different from the original concept in his preliminary sketches, experiments, or maquettes. Ultimately, they represent an elaborate dance with the laws of gravity to create pure form, they are both process and performance.

About the Artist
Quinn Smallboy was born in Moose Factory, Ontario and is an enrolled member of Moose Cree First Nation. He received a diploma in multimedia and production design from Fanshawe College in 2004 and completed his MFA in Visual Art (studio) at Western University in 2017. Smallboy is recognized for examining what it means to be a “contemporary Indigenous artist;” he questions how customary symbols and icons of Indigenous culture translate into painting, sculpture, and installation. His work resides in several public and private art collections. It has been displayed at galleries and museums throughout Canada including the Woodland Cultural Centre, the Art Gallery of Windsor, and Museum London. His major public artwork, Drum Circle, was permanently installed in Kagawong, Manitoulin Island, in 2017.

Glenhyrst Art Gallery acknowledges that we are on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabeg, and Haudenosaunee Peoples. Brantford is situated on the Haldimand Tract, land promised to Six Nations, which includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.

Glenhyrst Art Gallery is fully accessible and includes an elevator and accessible washroom. The main entrance is accessed by a concrete pathway and may be opened with an automatic door opener. For assistance or questions about the gallery, please call us. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

For more information, please contact:
Glenhyrst Art Gallery
20 Ava Rd., Brantford ON
N3T 5G9 (519) 756-5932