by Juilee Raje
Guelph Arts Council and University of Guelph School of Fine Art and Music are now hosting Close Quarters, the Spring Exhibition for Guelph Young Artists Mentorship Project.
Works from visual artists Laurel McLeod, Anne Munroe, Jessica Buchanan, Ahmri Vandeborne, and Sam Johns will be on display in the Heritage Room at 10C Shared Space.
The dialogue that will be activated by the paintings and sculpture in this group exhibition will be enriching and multilayered. The artists are at different points in their journeys as arts & cultural producers, and have been developing their practices by experimenting with styles of expression that range from abstract painting, intuitive approaches to depicting nature, sculptural tensions, and more.
Each artist’s approach is visually stimulating, driven, and synthesizes the traditional practices of painting and sculpture into something new and unexpected. A recurring aesthetic that has these works gravitating towards each other is the desire to mediate on the natural environment and identity, with great sensitivity to how the elements move us towards expressing their influences using materials found in, or outside of the studio.
Anne Munroe explores her appreciation for the works of Helen Frankenthaler and John Kissick, unifying their distinctive artistic characteristics while adding her own unique touch to her paintings. Jessica Buchanan creates intriguing and detailed works within her versatile practice of depicting landscapes, still lifes, and abstraction in the medium of acrylic paint on canvas.
Jessica Buchanan of Creative Canvas Paintings (left), Laurel McLeod (centre), and After the Night, by Sam Johns (right). Images courtesy of the artists.
Laurel McLeod redefines the act of ‘documenting a process’ as she observes the forms that wind, snow, and nature make and works to mimic or trace their forms on canvas through new artistic materials, like preserved moss. Her work asks, “can humans replicate what nature can make?” Ahmri Vandeborne’s work also handles environmental aesthetics and takes an investigative, scientific approach. She examines climate change and human beings’ impact on the natural world, and depicts moments of chaos and instability caused by interruptions between environmental and human identities. Sam Johns’ work adds an important dimension to the show by exploring deeper ways to connect with complex issues of identity, memories, and emotions through sculpture. Bravely expressing both positive and negative experiences, Johns aims to build a bridge between artist and audience.
By bringing these themes to life in Close Quarters, we invite you to spend time with these works and indulge in their energies. The exhibition will run from Tuesday, April 3 to Friday April 13. 10C Shared Space at 42 Carden Street is a wheelchair accessible building with free admission. Guelph Young Artists Mentorship Project is presented by GAC and Guelph SOFAM, and is supported by the RBC Emerging Artists Project.
Anne Munroe has been driving her practice towards bringing more abstraction into her landscape paintings. She enjoys stepping into the shoes of American expressionist Helen Frankenthaler to get a feel for the painter’s soft colour washes, and observes works from Southern Ontario artist John Kissick to appreciate his hybrid pictorial spaces and unapologetic, gestural use of colours. Anne’s harmonious paint strokes and washes of colour invite you into the painting, while allowing your eyes to dance around the canvases to take in the dynamism and activity of the abstract forms.
Laurel McLeod is an emerging artist and University of Guelph student, specializing in Studio Art and minoring in Art History. She enjoys painting, photography practices, and is interested in exploring Zen Buddhism in her current works. Her drawings and paintings are often experimental, playful, and responsive to the environment, and she gives great care to the stages of conceptualizing an artwork.
Jessica Buchanan has been painting for over eight years and runs a business titled Creative Canvas Paintings. She exercises artistic and commercial professionalism by creating many versatile artworks, and has participated in several community murals and art shows in Guelph. Buchanan offers clients a range of original artworks on her website, and is open to customizing works to suite individual visions.
Ahmri Vandeborne displays a passion for anthropogenic climate change and examines the fabric of ecopsychology (the study of the relationship between humans and the natural world through employing psychological and ecological principles). Her work highlights tensions that are created in the natural world when humans disrupt and interfere with the ecological stability, by depicting moments of chaos and unnatural activity in her art.
Sam Johns is a graduate of the University of Guelph Studio Art program. His broad practice encompasses installation sculpture, happenings, and performance art, dealing with issues of queer identity, stress, and sexual violence. His works amplify both positive and negative experiences by bringing them in a new context. By translating multidimensional issues into tangible experiences, Johns’ work explores how the performer and audience can engage more symbiotically with each other through art.