By Evangeline Mann
“Win/Win” is an exhibition featuring the colourful, multimedia artwork of six emerging artists at Boarding House Gallery in Guelph from November 15 to November 30, 2019. It is also the culminating project of the Guelph Emerging Artist Mentorship Project (GEAMP) — a joint initiative run by Guelph Arts Council and the University of Guelph’s School of Fine Art and Music (SOFAM), with support from the RBC Emerging Artists Project. I was the SOFAM student co-ordinator for this project, and it was also an experiential learning course that counted toward the credit-requirements for the completion of my art history degree.
From left to right. Evangeline Mann (GEAMP student co-ordinator), Heather Caruso, Yulia Balobanova, Elly Grant, Carolina Benitez, Claire Stewart, and Bree Leggett
The project started in 2017, and offers a fall mentorship period from September to early December, as well as a summer mentorship period from May to July. It has paired 48 emerging visual artists, musicians and cultural managers based in Guelph with established arts and cultural professionals based in or near the city. It additionally culminates in a final exhibition that emerging artist mentees develop, promote, curate, install and de-install with the assistance and guidance of their mentors.
The exhibition’s title, “Win/Win” was developed by emerging curator and fall 2019 GEAMP participant Elly Grant. “Win/Win” is intended to represent the mutually beneficial aspects of mentorship for both mentees and mentors, as well as the numerous positive elements of mentorship.
Emerging artists participating in the fall 2019 round include: Yulia Balobanova, Carolina Benitez, Heather Caruso, Elly Grant, Bree Leggett and Claire Stewart.
Yulia Balobanova’s soft, pastel landscapes explore light, shadow and form to represent natural environments, buildings and flora and fauna, while Heather Caruso’s acrylic paintings on an adjacent wall represent colourful still-life scenes, intricate designs or playful scenes of animals in human poses or clothing. Claire Stewart’s gigantic cardboard guitar case complete with a cozy arrangement of blankets and pillows is situated in the centre of the space, near her vibrant, oil-pastel works with abstract or figurative compositions. Carolina Benitez’s installation is also featured in the middle of the gallery space, with numerous elements from the natural world. On an opposite wall, Elly Grant’s pillows created with a variety of fabrics represent all the places where she has resided, and her experiences in these different locations. Finally, Bree Leggett’s massive water loom is located in the back corner of the gallery space. It features multiple natural elements, such as birch tree branches, trees, and sticks, as well as textile elements, coats hung on a wall, a mirror, written messages conveying profound interpretations, drums, and wall hangings. Together, these pieces represent how a group of six emerging artists represented their interests and unique points of view creatively and collaboratively within a gallery space.
Win / Win Exhibition opening at Boarding House Gallery.
Elly Grant is an emerging curator and visual artist who was also part of the fall 2019 GEAMP round. She worked with the Guelph Arts Council team to develop social media promotional posts, design the exhibition poster, collect label information from each artist as well as design, print and install these labels, and compose the curatorial statement. She noted that this opportunity helped her learn about the timeline of producing an exhibition, the various steps and tasks that need to be completed to fully develop it, as well as how curators and artists can work together to create artistic projects that are engaging and feasible.
Artists interested in participating in the summer 2020 round as emerging artists or mentors are invited to contact Patti Broughton at Guelph Arts Council at [email protected] or (519) 836-3280.