By: Paige Smith, Peak Associate
In the midst of the pandemic, SFU’s first-year master of fine arts (MFA) students have successfully assembled an in-person exhibition. The work showcases their artistic research into topics such as identities and form.
Walking into the unusual gallery space — previously a salmon cannery — of SFU’s Vancouver campus at 611 Alexander St., viewers see an assemblage of works. Each piece is distinct in style, though many involve moving images and sculptural elements.
The exhibition contains works from Barry Olusegun-Noble Despenza, Tin Gamboa, Homa Khosravi, Katie Kozak, Silas Ng, Jami Reimer, Matthew Toffoletto, and Katayoon Yousefbigloo. A few of these artists’ pieces are detailed in this article and pictured above.
Three odd wooden boxes hang from a wall, each black with exquisitely painted flowers on their sides. The boxes are visibly open, and each contains a delicate object. The first holds sewing needles stuck to the top of the box, each holding a loose pink thread. The farthest box contains a dried, flattened yellow flower pinned like a dead butterfly for display. The middle box bears very small photographic projections, reminiscent of the antiquated practice of projecting family travel photos.
The photos evoke a personal and private world: cozy homes, women holding flowers. The grain of the wood creates a beautiful texture for the projection, and the sides of the box suggest a darkened miniature theatre.
Before even examining the artist’s statement, it is clear Homa Khosravi’s Pink Lacquer is an intimate piece. Khosravi’s piece attempts to magnify her Islamic and Iranian heritage, alongside her recently passed mother. She gracefully interweaves symbols of growth in the painted flowers and loose threads with the symbols of grief in the calcified, pinned dead flower and the grainy family photography.
Nearby, a glowing blue light emanates from the ground. The light is shining through the sand-covered glass table top. Round mirrors sit on top, inviting viewers low to the ground to see Katie Kozak’s work in detail.
Working with SFU MFA graduate artist Lucien Durey, Kozak’s piece, Everything is borrowed and will be returned, contains an assortment of sea-related objects. These objects were borrowed from Durey and taken by Kozak to the ocean. There, she allowed the body of water to alter the objects.
The title seems to clarify Kozak’s artmaking process and her work’s environmental inclination. She borrowed the materials from Durey, but also borrowed the seawater and salts from the ocean. She states she plans to return everything, but the viewer is left to wonder whether they will be returned to the human owner of the objects or the land from which the objects originated.
Sprawling across the back wall, Silas Ng’s The Blue Room immediately calls for closer inspection. The bright blue cyanotype prints each depict a graph layered over blurry images of a cello player. The graph’s x-axis indicates audio frequencies, the y-axis decibels, and markings show whether the sound is heard with the left or right ear; the prints depict a hazy and confusing potential reading of how to visualize audio.
Accompanying the prints is a looping projection piece that layers the images further. The absence of an accompanying soundtrack to the moving image component seems to intentionally point to our assumptions of certain visuals containing accompanying sounds. The artist statement describes the work as an attempt to transform unseen sound into visual materials, navigating between Ng’s experiences in both “audiocentric and Deaf worlds.”
The SFU MFA first-year exhibition some things may pass was filled with distinct works with a diversity of topics and forms explored.
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