School of Art Gallery Winter 2021 Exhibitions

School of Art Gallery, University of Manitoba launches a new season of exhibitions and virtual programming.
Please note that the School of Art Gallery is currently closed due to COVID-19. Consult our COVID-19 protocols before planning your visit. Learn more >

Katie Lyle (background) and Ella Dawn McGeough (foreground), Greener than Grass exhibition view

Katie Lyle (background) and Ella Dawn McGeough (foreground), Greener than Grass exhibition view, Susan Hobbs Gallery, 2020, curated by Lillian O’Brien Davis. Photo: Laura Findlay, courtesy of Susan Hobbs Gallery.

Dancing with Tantalus

Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Katie Lyle, and Ella Dawn McGeough
Curated by Lillian O’Brien Davis
January 21 to March 13, 2021

Contact is a many layered metaphor; both touch and its absence have consequences that can extend indefinitely. I look at my hands. They feel huge, like mitts that will cover, crush, or make a mess. I am frightened that the marks they make will last too long, be too big, cause unpredictable outcomes. When I do make contact, the effects are not immediate—this delay temporarily alleviates my fears. However, all marks, all instances of contact, eventually appear. While contact may signal a crisis, its lack also torments, like the aching feeling when something lies just out of grasp.

Consider the Greek myth of Tantalus, who stole ambrosia, nectar, and the gods’ secrets of immortality for his people. As punishment for his crime, Tantalus was made to stand in a clear pool where water receded before he could drink, underneath trees laden with fruit that forever escaped his grasp. Touching leaves traces, often more lasting than originally imagined, but the absence of touch builds both anticipation and desire.

Featuring work by Ella Dawn McGeough, Katie Lyle and Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Dancing with Tantalus engages qualities of contact—between people, surfaces, and objects—to examine haptic intimacy and explore the causal relationship between artworks and the many structures that make contact with them—physically, intellectually, emotionally, institutionally, and historically.

Associated Programming:

Dancing with Tantalus Panel Discussion
Thursday, February 18, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. CT
Facilitated on Zoom and livestreamed on the School of Art Gallery, University of Manitoba YouTube channel
Please visit to learn more and register.
Panel will be ASL interpreted and recorded and uploaded to YouTube.

More Dancing with Tantalus associated programming >

Jon Sasaki: A Rest

Curated by Blair Fornwald, Director/Curator
January 21 to March 13, 2021

This split-screen video pairs archival images of Depression-era dance marathon competitors who have fallen asleep, or are resting in the arms of their partners with footage of solo contemporary dancer James Phillips, who attempts to hold the resting partner’s poses without anyone to lean on. Phillips’ body strains to hold these unsupported resting poses and finally collapses. Although Sasaki’s work predates the COVID-19 pandemic, it accrues additional poignancy and meaning when viewed through the inevitable lens of the current health and economic crisis. As we collectively struggle to adapt to these ever-changing and extraordinary circumstances, and as so many of us ache for community and human contact, we might ask ourselves: who supports us? Who are we supporting? And how long can we keep going?

Jon Sasaki is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist who explores many concurrent streams of inquiry that often intertwine in surprising ways. Frequently charting territory between logic and absurdity, his practice brings performance, video, object and installation into a framework where expectation and outcome rarely align. His work has been exhibited throughout Canada and internationally. He is represented by Clint Roenisch Gallery in Toronto.

PAWS: Protest, Activism, Whimsy and Self Care in Animal Crossing

Kayelynn Kennedy, Adelle Lin, and Hailey Kanoe Schurz
Curated by Ciel Noel
Designed by Battleax Bunny
March 5 to May 7, 2021
Online via Animal Crossing
Visit for Dream Address.

During a chaotic and unpredictable time, many people have turned to the Nintendo game Animal Crossing: New Horizons as a haven. Through decorating, forming relationships with animal residents, and custom designing outfits, Animal Crossing islands have been used to gather, share, inspire, and restore. They are refuges during a deadly pandemic, but they have also become the battlegrounds for activists who have put their lives on the line. Surprising many, this charming game has become the catalyst for government censorship, charity drives, political campaigning, and growing quiet warnings to keep politics “out of the game”.

From Hong Kong and Black Lives Matter to razor blades and mayonnaise, the creative and complex Animal Crossing: New Horizon community grapples with questions every person who has fought for a cause has to ask themselves: when do I choose activism and when do I choose self-care?

Driven by the tension between safety and courage, PAWS looks at how a slow, sweet game of social relationships, crafting, and exploration became a stage for global tensions and tensions of the heart.

Associated Programming:

PAWS: Artists in Conversation
Friday, March 5, 7:00-8:30 p.m. CT
Facilitated on Zoom and livestreamed on the School of Art Gallery, University of Manitoba YouTube channel
Please visit to learn more and register.

More PAWS associated programming >


School of Art Gallery
255 ARTlab
180 Dafoe Road
Winnipeg MB R3T2N2

For more information, contact School of Art Media and Events Coordinator Cailyn Harrison,

The University of Manitoba campuses are located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the MĂ©tis Nation.

We respect the Treaties that were made on these territories, we acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

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