BY CHRISTINE MINAS | February 17, 2020
This past December I was invited by the Consulate General of Canada in New York to organize an exhibition celebrating Canadian artists who currently call New York home. Making Their Mark: Candian Artists in New York was 2019’s final celebratory event marking the 150th anniversary of Canada’s official presence in New York. While the Consulate regularly supports the presentation of Canadian artists’ work in New York at a wide variety of venues, this was its first foray into staging a temporary art installation on its own premises.
Ever since I returned to the US from living in Canada, I have been struck by the number of committed and talented Canadian visual artists who have made New York City their home. Selecting just four artists from an expansive and impressive group was a difficult task. For this special presentation, I chose to focus on artists who are working in compelling ways with a breadth of media, including sculpture, photography, video and installation.
In Rachel Beach’s photographic Hands series abstract shapes painted onto the artist’s hand concretely address the underlying structures of the hand while also pointing to the evolution of language and communication from cave painting and prehistoric glyphs to maritime flags and modern-day typography . The bold elemental forms and monumental scale of the photographs reference the physical experience of making, lifting, building and living while the slight variations in gesture and familiarity of subject matter lend the work a gentle vulnerability.
For more information about the artist, see @rachelbeach88
Mona Saeed Kamal
With 1001 Migrations Mona Saeed Kamal seeks to celebrate migration. She writes, “These boats represent migration and journeys that we have all taken as humans since the origins of humanity. Today we are bombarded with images of desperate refugees fleeing war torn countries…however…we all migrate. It can be to different neighborhoods, new cities, states and countries. We commonly think of migration due to political reasons but many times we move for reasons such as educational and job opportunities or simply, new experiences.”
The artist’s process of making the boats is a meditation akin to the meditative state one can enter when on a journey. The boats represent any of our journeys, whenever we are in between places.
For more information about the artist, see @monasaeedkamal
By introducing carved interventions in the form of delicate patterns and imagery Cal Lane makes sculptures that break down traditional symbols of progress, industry, masculinity, and strength. The artist’s primary tool is an oxy-acetylene and plasma torch which she uses in very physical interactions with pre-existing steel objects such as ammunition boxes and car hoods.
From cold hard steel Lane reveals flora and vegetation, medieval and Victorian era ornamentation and even an occasional cupid or assault rifle. Her work is driven by the desire to take power away from aggressive objects and to question traditional hierarchies. While the original objects remain recognizable, Lane’s interventions create startling juxtapositions and new harmonies.
For more information about the artist, see @cal_cal_cal_lane
“Did you know Blue Had No Name” explores the idea of “blueness” through various historical narratives. The work examines the relationship between the color blue and mountaineering, early photographic technologies, art history, and how knowledge is ascribed and recorded. The crux of this project is an essay-style video that weaves together many histories of the color blue which reference, among other elements, eradicated feminist histories, indigenous knowledge systems and issues of invisibility, innovation, and conquest.
For more information about the artist, see @eliseseye
“Making Their Mark: Canadian Artists in New York” was presented at the Consulate General of Canada in New York from December 14 to 16, 2019.