If there is an art show where art for art’s sake makes perfect sense, it is the end of year show at UBCO.
Converting the fine arts department into a massive installation, the fourth year students take the opportunity to show everyone exactly what their time as a student produced before graduating into a world where some will be artists, others waiters and others may just go on to become accountants.
This is the hub of a cohort of creative minds and it is never dull, particularly when one considers there likely isn’t a person in the class who could visualize this pièce de résistance when art school commenced.
Tony Wang is probably the best example of the radical transformation four years of creative juice and instruction can produce.
He drew a few things to get into art school, he says, but claims he can’t actually draw.
“I just see what I want to make in my mind and then I can make it. But I can’t draw it,” said Wang, whose intricate metal sculptures of knights in armour give one the sense he must have carefully planned a pattern.
He didn’t. He just takes the old bits of pipes and machine chains, sheet metal and scrap he finds and turns it into an object any little boy would love to play with—and this is likely how he has managed to develop such a talent.
“I always look at the pictures first when I read a book,” he said. “I always have.”
He takes those pictures, and the figures in his video games, and imagines what it would be like if those characters were toys one could use to play.
For parents who fear their violent video game-addicted children’s brains will go to mush, this phenomenal talent will surely make him the knight in shining armour of the show.
And his personal twist on the medieval theme in his work adds the kind of childlike humour everyone will enjoy.
One knight rides a hobby horse, and his raptor sculpture has a marshmallow on a stick in its claw, rather than a flaming baton.
The sculptures are playful in a way that makes one want to pick them up, and his face lights up like a kid in a candy store as he explains the work.
Carla O’Bee is somewhat more serious.
Another young student, the intellectual element of her portraits is as important to the work as the image itself, and one can see a young woman shaping the lines in her world through the lines on her canvasses.
She is interested in juxtaposing images of masculinity and femininity, drawing both qualities out of her subjects, and is bravely resurrecting her love of crafts by sewing the hair onto her portraits.
“I wanted to mix the craft into the fine art realm,” she said, knowing that, at least traditionally, never the twain shall meet.
Her portraits are of important male figures in her life and the embroidery does give them a feminine touch, not to mention a textural quality one probably couldn’t achieve with anything else.
Her father’s beard is particularly striking, and one can see the family resemblance between her father’s eyes and her own as she perches above the canvass on a stool.
She has created these canvass portraits with embroidery to depict her boyfriend, her grandfather and her brothers-in-law.
None of these relatives have seen the images, and they will not do so until the night of the show.
The nervous manner in which she approaches the interview, and the flush on her neck as she blushes in the photo, lead one to imagine it will be a very unnerving reveal on her end, even as awesome as the work looks. It’s taken a few years of planning and experimenting to get to this point and she’s clearly excited.
On the opposite end of the scale, Angelica Jaeger—artist name aj jaeger—is a seasoned artist with an in-home studio who is taking the ultimate risk by creating an intuitive, ethereal sculptural installation.
She’s been draping the cheese cloth she’s using into round objects, leaving one with the impression of a web of cocoons.
“It’s well-planned, but there’s lots of room for openness,” she said, noting her interest is always in having a connection with people.
One can imagine the nest-like objects she’s building will be an attraction that sucks spectators in, just as the cocoon or nest sucks its subject into to a safe world connected to nature and the outside world.
This year’s show features painting and printmaking, Canadiana sculpture and social media elements. And just like every other end-of-year show, it’s unlike any other.
The UBCO Bachelor of Fine Arts graduation exhibition, Continuum, runs April 17-24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and the reception event will be held April 20 at 7 p.m. It is held on campus in the fine arts building, though open to the public. Admission is free.