'A Heap of Random Sweepings' Lives Up to its Name in the Best Way

Monday, April 18, 2016

  • Artwork by Sonali Menezes. Photograph by Rebecca Casalino.

    Artwork by Sonali Menezes. Photograph by Rebecca Casalino.

On Saturday April 16, The Boarding House Gallery hosted this years group of Specialized Studio students for their show A Heap of Random Sweepings. Specialized students at the University of Guelph have their own studios for the full school year and are guided by studio visits with professors and intensive readings. This show is a chance to display what the students works have morphed into with the experience of having their own studio space.

This group of Specialized students are especially unconventional in their art making. The artists featured in the show were Sonali Menezes, Jordan Pederson, Merlin Hunt, Kenneth Jeffrey, Chris Withenshaw, Kelly Zantingh, Erika Farfaras, Alison Postma, Elana Shvalbe, Emma Welche, Katie Cheung, Emma Green, Andrew Mandaliti, Christina Smith, Linh Thai, and Lindsay Sisson guided by Professor Nestor Kruger throughout the semester.

“There’s a lot more stuff on the floor this year,” said Farfaras as she greeted friends coming in the door.

This statement held up throughout the show, with a heap of TV’s surprising the viewer at the entrance to the space, and Hunt’s flesh coloured animal-like soft sculptures lay together in the middle of the gallery. The mountain of TVs were held together with tape and leaned on tables supporting other TV’s. This bundle of screens showed video works by Menezes, waxing her legs in the Arboretum in her feminist style; Green, displaying her obsession with DreamWorks’s Shrek, and Zantingh’s claymation works (which won first prize at this years Juried Art Show).

“They made no efforts to hide anything, which is really nice,” said Claudia Rick, a third year Studio Art student, as she circled the pile of TV’s and the tangle of wires belonging to them.

The eccentric Mandaliti displayed his creation of the worlds most ridiculous selfie stick, as if they weren’t ridiculous enough, which ran from the floor to its perch on a pipe running along the ceiling. Mandaliti is in his fifth year at the University of Guelph and is famous for entering a critique, kicking a wall, and saying that the scuff mark made by his shoe was his drawing which was due that class.

Farfaras showed her work, small architecturally inspired sculptures, displayed on the floor which were years in the making. Over her career at Guelph she has experimented with construction materials for houses like blue installation foam, reflective insulation tape, plywood and wood to create small sculptures that reference architecture in their design but remain art objects in their scale and construction.

Gallery victors stepped around Farfaras sculptures and tilted their heads at the one lopsided piece of hers. Visitors loved the quirkiness of the one slanted sculpture and Farfaras blushed every time someone commented on it.

Menezes was floating around the space for the opening chatting up students and giving tours with her adorable unibrow. Her artwork featured close up pictures of her eyes and eyebrows, making her standout as one of the artists in the show. Her obsession with glitter was displayed with a collection of glittering papers taped to the gallery wall, which captured everyone’s eye. Sisson was finishing off her ice-cream from a group trip to the Boathouse as I attempted to interview her.

“I don’t know,” she said shyly, as I asked her for a few genius insights into the show. Sisson’s delicate paper sculptures were pinning to the gallery wall in numerous places with her usual bug like creatures on the first wall of the gallery then some surprising more light-hearted pieces near the back. She created a tiny pineapple sculpture using nails and the folds in the paper to create this piece. With her background in science Sisson won prizes at JAS in 2015 for her obsession with these tiny folded sculptures which usually look like insects displayed in vitrines (like at a museum) or in tiny glass jars.

Overall the show was light hearted and busy as people came and went to explore the rest of the building or to enjoy coffee outside. It was a great day to get people down to the Boarding House with the sun beaming through its windows and lighting up the art. 

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