By Eden Ramsay
Attention all Winnipeg art lovers. One of the best art shows to check out in Winnipeg is definitely the annual University of Manitoba School of Art Open House.
This free art exhibit showcases the talents of students in the program’s different disciplines including basic design, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, and video. Usually the open houses have run in April at the end of the school term. This year, they are changing things up a bit by having it a couple of months earlier. This particular open house is even more special because it marks the 100th art school open house to take place at the university.
Once upon a time, I too roamed the halls of the art buildings, hauling my spray glue and matboard, large drawing papers, charcoals, clay, pastels, paints, and all the other random things you sometimes need when creating a masterpiece. Back when I took the graphic design program there was just the Fitzgerald building, the Art Barn, and the Sculpture/Ceramics building.
Now there is the gorgeous new ARTlab building at 180 Dafoe Road. This three-floored architecturally modern building is the newest addition to the School of Art buildings. This is where students’ work was showcased when I stopped by. Many students inside were still busily working away on different projects.
Be sure to check out the main day of the open house on Sunday, February 24 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. On this day, family and friends, as well as the general public, are invited to check out the space. The Ceramic/Sculpture building and Art Barn will be open to the public only as well. Work areas will be available for viewing in these buildings, but there will be no displays set up. However, there will also be the famous chili bowl sale in the ceramic portion of the Ceramic/Sculpture building. This sale involves picking out a one-of-a-kind, hand crafted ceramic bowl made by the students and then filling it with with hot, freshly made chili. So you can have your art and eat it too.
Upon walking into the building, and going down a few steps you see Michelle Plamondon’s sculpture for her Sculpture 1 class, two chairs of the same shape face each other. These are not just any chairs. One is covered in black and white stripes and covered in glassy looking hand painted eyeballs in many different colour combinations, pupil shapes and sizes. The other is unpainted and definitely not made for sitting. It is covered in a rough, rock-like substance and pointed, coloured gemstone prisms. This chair was connected by an electrical cord. I believe the gemstones even light up when the cord is plugged in.
One excellent example of a piece involving drawing was Freya Perron’s Drawing 1 class project. Beautifully high-contrast fragments of drawings of women of different ages were sewn into canvas along with pieces of lace. The end result was feminine, edgy, and thought provoking at the same time.
Shaylyn Plett had an interesting piece for her Painting 1 class. The painting was technically done very well in a lovely palette of blues, violets, and earth tones. The piece looks abstract yet geographical, almost like we were looking down on a landscape from above.
I enjoyed Serge Gumenyuk’s Digital Photography 1 class photo series. In the photos, people stand outside in different parts of the city at night staring at a video that is projected on the sides of different buildings. He has a playful sense of light in the photos and they have an almost otherworldly vibe to them.
Peter Tittenberg, a ceramics major, had one of the best examples of ceramic work in the show. A set of three jars beautifully covered with shiny and and matte earth toned glazes were topped with three figurines molded into the likeness of people engaging in different sports. The one about to throw the curling rock is my favourite for sure.
McKenah Sobering made a very cool sculptural piece for their Open Studio class. It was titled Project 1: Limitations — conceptual evolution through material limitations. The mostly wooden contraption invites people to turn the lever towards them. This moves a row of plastic disks, which in turn move a row of wooden sticks placed directly above them. These sticks have thin strings attached to them. The other end of these strings have small metal balls gangling from them that gently hit each other as the lever is turned. The project was meticulously assembled very well. When interacting with it, it was fascinating to see the wave-like movement of the wooden sticks and metal balls.
If you want to see a free admission art show in different mediums, full of the talents of up-and-coming art stars, I would definitely recommend checking out the 100th School of Art Open House this Sunday. There is so much variety in this show it is almost guaranteed that everyone will see something of interest. Even if you are not into art, you may still be into chili.
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Eden Ramsay is a Creative Communications student at Red River College. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the University of Manitoba and majored in graphic design. She loves culture, design in its many forms, and exploring the world around her. Follow her on Twitter: @EdenRamsay.