ON VIEW AT THE BLUFFS GALLERY: Beyond the Waters by ACM Students at the UTSC
BEYOND THE WATERS
Featuring works by students studying within the Department of Arts, Culture and Media at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus
With instruction from Yael Brotman
Exhibition Dates: December 5, 2018 to February 7, 2019
Artist Meet and Greet/Reception: December 5, 5:30 PM–7:30 PM
Bluffs Gallery at Scarborough Arts
1859 Kingston Road
Beyond the Waters explores multiple narratives of place-making in Scarborough and the importance of acknowledging the personal impact of the space that one occupies. With a close ear to stories of immigration and environmental ecosystems, this show acts as a collective reflection of the land beneath our feet and the shores beyond the city’s geographical borders.
Beyond the Waters presents artworks created by students studying within the Department of Arts, Culture and Media at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, inspired by the scenery surrounding the Bluffs Gallery.
ARTIST STATEMENTS + BIOS
MAHNOOR AQIL: The Scarborough Experience
The Scarborough Experience is a reflection of the battle that I often find myself drawing parallels between; the child who was born in Pakistan and a woman who now calls Scarborough her home. It is this pursuit that inspired me to create a geographical visualization of Scarborough, highlighting its South Asian strongholds that make up the multicultural hotspots (indicated by red pins) as well as areas that I have been fortunate to call my home.
The map presents the municipal development of Scarborough (1920’s – 2000’s) that formed specific cultural communities and molded my experience within this city as a south Asian individual while also tracking my movement and growth through Scarborough’s specific areas.
About Mahnoor Aqil
Noor Aqil is a Pakistani Canadian artist best known for her wedding photography career. Aqil started shooting weddings from a young age and is now a successful entrepreneur. Noor depicts her struggles as a Muslim female Pakistani Canadian through her art. Her art often depicts her struggles of assimilating in Canadian culture while maintaining her roots. Through her life in Scarborough as an outsider, she references controversial topics of Islamaphobia, Muslim segregation, issues of immigrants and relates them back to her roots. She acknowledges that in someone else’s land she feels the discomfort of forced assimilation that creates in her a new self.
YEMMY CEN WU: Direction
The main purpose of this art project is to consider the disappearance of the aerial insect eaters – swallows. I have created in my art piece the situation that shows that contamination has caused the extinction of the swallow. Animals are vulnerable to harm from bad air pollution. Moreover, world wildlife disappeared by 58% in 40 years. Imagine what that looks like. For every 100 birds, now there are only 30. Now, take that and multiply that across all species. Habitat destruction is the leading cause of wildlife deaths worldwide. First of all, the main reason that causes the swallow extinction is bad air pollution. Human beings destroy animals’ habitats and kill them. The smoke from cars and factories is not only destroying the animals’ habitats, it also destroys our planet, the planet that we all live in together. Last but not least, the main effect I would like to show to the audience in my painting installation is how human beings kill swallows constantly nowadays.
About Yemmy Cen Wu
My name is Yemmy Cen Wu and I’m from Guangdong China. I came to Toronto almost nine years ago. The first place I lived in in Canada was in Scarborough for five years. I am very familiar with Scarborough. I am currently a senior student studying double major Studio and Media at the University of Toronto Scarborough. I am interested in drawing and painting. I find that I am able to stay very focused when I am drawing and I feel confident every time I finish a drawing or a painting. It gives me satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Therefore, I love using drawing to express my inner thoughts.
SIYANG HE: Salmon Circle
Before doing this work, I went to Port Hope to see salmon fishing with my own eyes. However, the fish I saw there were scarred and damaged. Then I learned that the salmon had originally been swimming in the ocean to the river. They swam to lay eggs and breed the next generation. My goal in producing this artwork is to urge people to protect salmon and the ecology. More and more people are now killing creatures and destroying the ecological environment. In addition, I used the mediums of watercolor, rice paper and 16 canvases to constitute one piece. The highlight of this work is that I found fish from the market and a river, so I painted on those fish and printed each fish on the with rice paper. The canvas includes four canvases overlapping the bottom eight canvases. In the process of doing this project, I encountered difficulties. The overlapping canvases, caused trouble in the printing, because there is a difference in depth between them. Then, I thought of temporarily fixing rice paper on to the canvas. I considered that the four canvases above could be cut out and pasted to the canvases in a suitable size, and then printed. The last step was to glue all of them together and hope that the joints would look perfect. Finally, I painted the cuts and bruises you see. I can’t help but feel that no matter whether a being is human or animal, they have to struggle in this world.
About Siyang He
I am a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus in the studio program. I come from China, and I have been living in Scarborough for five years. I define myself as a painter, and I did many drawing artworks in school that I am also pleased with. When I was in primary school, I fell in love with the idea of becoming an artist. When I worked on a painting, I was able to focus intensely on it and enjoy it. Because I enjoy the process of creating art, with its continuous progress and adjustment to get final satisfaction, I feel a sense of accomplishment. My artistic inspiration comes from life. The artistic mediums I work in are watercolor, acrylic, and ink — with their unique attributes of delicate textures and colors. In the Advanced Seminar: Two-Dimensional Work class, we completed work by listening to artists’ talks, reading, writing, painting, critiquing and building on our work to create well-developed pieces. This is the first time I am participating in an exhibition in a public gallery.
JINGHUA LIANG: Remain Under Cover
Remain Under Cover references the issues embedded in the botanical invasive species on the Scarborough Bluffs. I take inspiration from Peter Doig and Olia Mishchenko’s work. The artists who both express the tension and power of nature in the overlapping composition of dense forest and architecture. Many invasive plant species were brought to Canada both accidentally and intentionally with immigration, colonization and increased trade in the eighteenth century. They have economic impacts, disrupt ecosystem functions, threaten natural resource industries, lower land values, reduce recreation and landscape aesthetics. Remain Under Cover shows that the invasion of incursive species is threating the development of native plants: in my installation, the paintings are the endangered native plants at the Scarborough shoreline and the dried plants cover everything around them. My work admonishes people to take action to protect native species otherwise they will only be able to be viewed as archival images in future.
About Jinghua Liang
Jinghua Liang was born in Kaiping, Guangdong China in 1995 and immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2010. Having grown up in a warm climate and next to the countryside, her love of nature grew enormously. Liang was first introduced to art at a very young age by her oldest sister who later studied Fashion Design at George Brown. Throughout Liang’s life experience, she has always been fascinated by small objects and how they reflect on a bigger map. Her interest in focusing artistically on small things was cultivated during her teenage years and further developed when she has been taking her bachelor’s degree in Art.
JACQULINE OKOT: Roots
My research topic focused on Indigenous people and their connection to land on the Bluffs. My project was built around the question of displacement and what it means to belong in a wider community. My research included learning about the creation stories of the Ojibway people who lived in what is now Scarborough. Many of the Ojibway people also referred to themselves as Anishnabe, which means Original Man. One legend tells of the creation of Turtle Island, which represents North America. They see themselves as the original humans of North America. The legend is told that long ago, after the Great Spirit Kitchi-Manitou created humankind, a Sky Woman fell down to the earth when it was covered with water. Various animals tried to swim to the bottom of the ocean to bring back dirt to create land for Sky woman and all the creatures. Muskrat succeeded in gathering dirt, which was placed on the back of a turtle, which grew into the land known today as North America.
My drawings explore the relationship between indigenous people and their connection to animals and their spirituality. They are large line ink drawings on paper. The drawings include visual references to some of the spirit animals, such as eagles and turtles that carry great values in their culture. The drawings use a variety of lines that are manipulated to show transparency to suggest the idea of spirituality.
About Jacquline Okot
Jacquline Okot is currently in her 4th year at the University of Toronto Scarborough, specializing in Studio Art. She was born in South Sudan but due to the civil war that was going on at the time her family fled to Uganda when she was one year old. Sudan has been suffering from war for many years due to corruption in the government. People are displaced from their homes; many lost their lives as a result of the conflict. Okot moved to Scarborough in 2014. Her artworks explore the themes of war and displacement, reflecting her personal experiences. She is a sculptor, drawer, but mainly a painter. She uses art to express herself, through elements such as the contrast of colors, movements and lines.
Okot got her inspiration from her father who is an artist himself. Growing up in a small village in northern Uganda, she watched her father draw pictures of women carrying children on their backs, with chalk on the wall. She dreamed that one day she would become like him. She started her practice by drawing stick people on sand, and would always mold her own dolls from mud and allow them to dry in the sun because she didn’t have dolls to play with. As a young student, she is determined to learn, grow and reach her full potential as a professional artist.
KACHELY PETERS: Letters to My Mom, from Scarborough to Biabou and Back
Letters to My Mom, from Scarborough to Biabou and Back (2018) is a large drawing composed of a compilation of small drawings. Using ballpoint pen to evoke the custom of letter writing, this piece pays homage to my mother, who used to write letters to family and friends, after immigrating from the small island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Canada. Being born and raised in Scarborough, I have always been interested in how my family adjusted to the very different landscape of Canada. Tea stains scattered along the pages, add a soft touch to the paper creating a personal presence to the letters, likewise recalling the origins of tea and its colonial roots. Through the process of layering warm white paper with tracing paper, I attempted to communicate the layering of narratives that occurred throughout the making process, where my mother’s experiences were then transferred to me, and then interpreted on the page. Gaps in the placement of the papers and fragments of imagined letters are present, suggesting the ephemeral nature of memory and how these histories can be passed down from one generation to the next.
In making connections to both Caribbean and Canadian landscapes, the notion of placemaking becomes evident. Items like mangoes and articles of clothing are then contrasted with the flora of Canada, mixed to bring about a formation of home. Experimentation moving between abstraction and the figurative allows for the piece to become a new part of the story of immigration, representing blending customs and cultures. A movement from one place to another is depicted by the varying mark-making impressions left on the papers. A rhythm starts from the bottom right, finding its way up and to the left, suggesting a story that continues beyond the pages and could be continued on forever. Letters to My Mom, from Scarborough to Biabou and Back aims to find a way to navigate between ideas of home through the lens of immigration, and how one cultivates spaces in a new environment.
About Kachely Peters
Kachely Peters is an artist born and raised in Scarborough and is currently pursuing a BA in Studio Art at University of Toronto Scarborough; graduating in 2019. Working across diverse media of drawing, painting, and sculpture, Kachely Peters is continuously influenced by the Canadian landscape and her Caribbean background, flora and fauna recur throughout her work. Dealing with themes delving into the intimacy of experience, love, and belonging, Peters often mixes mediums to create the often-imagined places that can be evoked. She generates these spaces with the hopes of engaging in the ethereal nature of environments, taking in the seemingly smallest of moments.
CALEB Y. TAO: Bridge
My artwork Bridge is an interactive sound installation piece that helps to build a connection between the audience and the Scarborough Bluffs. The central idea is to engage audiences through perception. What I’m trying to achieve in this artwork is to let the audiences feel the geography of the Scarborough Bluffs by imagining what they might see if they are walking on a fall day on the Scarborough Bluffs. This artwork is inspired by artist Doug Aitken’s Sonic Pavilion and Bernhard Leitner’s Sound-Space. These two artists and their artworks both demonstrate the idea of manipulating sound as a medium to depict the environment. The ambient sound and the structure of the cube both are three dimensional but the curtain limits the audience’s vision which creates a two-dimensional experience when the audience is inside the space.
The installation consists of finely finished plywood, a curtain, and two pairs of surface transducers. The curtain in this project blocks the light from licking into the space of the structure. The total darkness will force audiences to rely on their auditory sense to feel the environment of the space inside. The surface transducers transmit the vibration frequency of the recorded sound to the plywood surface so that it turns the structure itself into a speaker.
Special thanks to Yael Brotman, Joshua Cleminson, Mauolo Lugo, Christopher Dela Cruz, Evelyn Jiang, Bob Z.Y. Chen, and Edward Li.
About Caleb Y. Tao
Caleb Tao is a Chinese-Canadian artist who lives and works in Canada. He was born in China and after finishing high school, he moved to Canada in 2013. He enrolled at the University of Toronto Scarborough in the Studio Program. In the fall of 2018, he was involved with a Nuit Blanch installation that connected Scarborough to downtown Toronto. With the practices and experiences he has had in the Studio Program, he finds himself most interested in sculpture, painting, and drawing. Caleb will graduate soon from university and he has the intention of working on his art in the future.
YUQI WEI: Responsibility
The theme of my artwork is pollution in Lake Ontario. I have done a lot of research on this topic. First I have extensively researched a lot of information about pollution of the water itself. I found that the levels of pollution are very high. This inspired me to make an artwork about pollution in Lake Ontario over the past ten years. I had the idea to use photography to shoot ink drops in the water. I used different colors of ink to represent different types of water pollutants. The volume of different colors of ink symbolizes the severity of the different types of pollutants, such as black for oil, green for cyanobacteria, red and brown for industrial wastewater and sewage. Then I used this series of photographs as the background. In front of these photographs is a series of works made with Photoshop and printed on transparent plastic sheets. In my research, I found that in recent years, the plastic pollution of Lake Ontario has gradually become more serious. So the materials I use, plastic sheets, is significant too. On the plastic sheets, I show there is a variety of plastic objects in the Lake, as well as micro plastics and tiny round plastic beads. The accumulation of plastic increased over the 10 years I looked at my research, while pollutants in the composition of the water actually decreased over those years.
My intention is that the viewers will understand the changes of water pollution and plastic pollution in Lake Ontario over the past ten years through my art work. I hope that people will understand the importance of protecting the environment around us, and that these pollutions will also affect our life and our pleasure in nature.
About Yuqi Wei
I come from China from a city called ChangChun. I have lived in Scarborough almost 8 years. For my artistic interests I want to say I like to focus on digital technology, like photography, and some digital tools (Photoshop, Premiere, etc) that I use for making artwork. I also like to create sculptures, and some drawing, and painting. What I am interested in is whether I can also master the discipline of public art. Public art is highly controversial now. There are many reasons for the controversy, such as public opinion, political influence, and so on. It is important to consider the role of public art in contemporary society.
SHENJI (GIGI) YIN: Union
Union, my current project, is a low relief installation with multiple 2D found images, focusing on the history of Chinese immigration to Canada. Over 200 years ago, the first Chinese landed in western Canada. Since I am Chinese and living as an outsider in Scarborough, I’m interested in exploring the issues of power and suffering of early Chinese immigrants.
They risked their lives to help build Canada’s national railway in the 1880s. But as soon as the work was done, Canada just wanted them gone. It was the beginning of a difficult history for Chinese immigrants to Canada. They struggled through the head tax, personal attacks and job discrimination. It was a time of struggle for Chinese people; they had less opportunity to bring their families to Canada. However, they never gave up; they kept fighting for what they experienced in Canada and struggled for identity and belonging. The material I use in my art installation is kitchen filters, which are a building material connected to the idea of home. Audiences are encouraged to look through the little cutout windows to gain a sense of empathy for Chinese immigration history.
About Shenji (Gigi) Yin
My artwork takes a critical view of social and cultural issues. Based on my personal nationality and experience, my work often referencing Asian history and explores the relationships between social structure, cultural issues and identity. Asian history has a profound impact on the ideas that I represent in contemporary art. Those non-Western cultures inspire me to continue to make art about humanity in diverse approaches. As an international student living in Scarborough, the special social identity in this multi-culture society makes me interested in the topic of Chinese immigration to Canada.