Six second-year students share START show

Local gallery houses unique art collection.

Tucked in the back Struts, START Gallery’s first show of the year imposes an atmosphere of mystery and memory. Composed of contributions by six second-year fine arts students, the artists explore their exhibition’s titular theme through a variety of forms including photography, paint, drawing, sculpture and mixed media.

“Recollection” features contributions by Chris Donovan, Jack Kinnie, Phil Mercier, Ali Louwagie, Robert McDermott and Kevin Melanson. Each brings a unique perspective to the exploration of memory, while addressing its universal aspects with themes such as fragmentation and change. Having been originally set to premiere at the end of last year, many of the pieces were rendered in the artists’ first year at Mount Allison.

A motif of fragmentation is present in much of Melanson’s work, particularly in the mixed media piece Mommy, Daddy Looks Like a Monster, which captures the nature of early childhood memory. The piece consists of a shattered glass image of a man over a cloth background, in which the cloth has been stitched together between each shard. The faded face of the man seen through jagged, brightly coloured lines is reminiscent of the incapacitating and often irrational terror that can seep in through darkness, filling the active imaginations of children in the night. We often see our childhood memories filtered through this dissolving yet exaggerated tunnel of vision, an idea which Melanson portrayed quite beautifully.

Louwagie’s sculpture Down, which resembled a torso made of feathers, was displayed on a podium in the centre of the gallery and had a curious placement amongst the other pieces. According to Louwagie, the sculpture was inspired by her interest in the relationship between the artifacts in museums and the artifacts from our own childhood that we carry with us. “It represents … how we sort of shut things away and shine a light on them,”she said. Reminiscent of taxidermy, it brings to mind an object gathering dust, displayed in perpetual darkness and preserved like an object saved from childhood.

On the wall behind Down, Kinnie’s ink-and-paper piece Untitled is interesting and, like Louwagie’s piece, difficult to interpret. According to Kinnie, the piece is a representation of the suburb in which he grew up: houses upon houses crowded together in a monotonous grid. The houses were drawn with both intentional carelessness and uniformity, as if to represent artificiality and sameness. A carefully depicted blue armored truck is also present outside the suburb, which appears to represent a place of freedom and a break in the monotony. This piece is interesting because it shows a more contemporary and concrete aspect of memory.

One crowd favourite was Chris Donovan’s Estranged, one of his three photographic diptychs displayed. The photographs portray a feeling of fragmentation through careful use of light and perspective, an effect which is similar to Melanson’s work, though more subtle. Both pictures had an ethereal feel, with grainy tones that illustrate feelings of warmth and separation. The scenes seemed lonely, detached and nostalgic, appearing to comment on the truly personal nature of memory.

“Recollection” opened Sept. 12 and will be on display in START Gallery until Sept. 23.


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