Silver has been a ubiquitous colour in memorable art works of the past. From Andy Warhol’s helium-filled pillowcases, “Silver Clouds”, to Robert Mapplethorpe’s silver prints from the late ‘80s, the colour simultaneously conjures feelings of modernity and nostalgia for the viewer.
Such are the emotions the (SILVER) exhibition and catalogue, launching at the Faculty of Fine Arts gallery later this month, will evoke. Showcasing works by this year’s 34 graduating photography students, it is the bow that will tie up these artists’ last year in their program.
Graduating student Laurence Poirier said the theme for this exhibition links back to the artists’ beginnings. “Silver salt is used to produce film for photography and even if we are using digital photography, the idea of this silver is still there,” she explained. “We all started with analog photography in first year, with silver. And as we all go in different directions, we all started the same way.”
As FOFA gallery director Jake Moore explained, this exhibition has been a long time in the making and will serve as a landmark in their artistic progress.
“These efforts are intended for public engagement, so the year-end exhibitions of graduating students’ works are important conclusions to their program of study, as well as celebrations,” she said.
What makes this year’s exhibition even more significant is the additional amalgamation of works from the students in the form of a catalogue.
“The publication is the result of a lot of hard work and fundraising by the students in the graduating classes,” said Claire Forsyth, a student whose work will be included. “Each student has two pages in the publication which represent the work they’ve been producing over the last year.”
Moore supports the idea of having a catalogue, which she said was meant “to return the focus of the class to the production of the work as opposed to exhibition, and to further the usefulness of the year end publication event.”
“It is very valuable for artists to have evidence of their practice in the form of catalogues and critical response,” she added.
Forsyth said that the strongest link between the 34 students is the fact that they are all in the same class. Beyond that, the presentations are diverse. “Everyone’s work comes from different backgrounds, so each of us is bringing something interesting and unique to the exhibition.”
The result is a vast range of styles and subject matters, representing the individual way each student takes to the craft.
“The images are from a broad spectrum of approaches, everything from classical black and white, to portraiture, to landscape, to conceptual works, to pure abstraction,” said Moore. “The production of the students is as varied as they are themselves and this is one of the real pleasures of the project.”
Among this variety are Poirier’s stills from a video she made, RÃ©chauffement, in which she mimicked warm-up exercises done by actors before plays, and Forsyth’s “Intentional Communities Project”, a series of images that she says “document existing queer and women-only communities across North America with Google satellite maps.”
Students who happen to walk past the gallery will be sure to get an eyeful of the artists’ works. The exhibition was designed to be displayed on the York Corridor Vitrines by student Sean Yendrys with help from another student, Duc Tran.
“They are also responsible for the catalogue design,” stated moore. “This sort of combined effort and evidence of student’s practices is exactly what we wish to bring forward at the FOFA.”
This is a goal that Forsyth echoes in her hopes of what exhibition-goers will take away from their visit.
“I hope that it sparks people’s interest in the work that is coming out of the photo department and the fine arts program in general,” she said. “I think there is a lot of good work coming out of this school and it is important to have events and projects like this to showcase that work, particularly from students who are nearing the end of their degree.”
In a true display of an end of year mindset, Forsyth’s sentiments toward the project mirror that of most who are wrapping up a degree.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the project completed and moving on to work on other things.”
The (SILVER) exhibition will take place at the FOFA Gallery from March 29 to 31. The catalogue launch will be on the 29 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.