Home Arts There’s a fine line between art and trash

There’s a fine line between art and trash

by Chloё Lalonde March 20, 2018
There’s a fine line between art and trash

Introducing three final artists from the first annual VAVxCUCCR residency

In celebration of the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR)’s first year of operation, the centre will host their first annual residency in collaboration with the VAV Gallery. Together, the VAV and CUCCR have selected seven undergraduate fine arts student-artists who will exhibit their work on March 22. The artists have been tasked with creating zero-waste artworks using CUCCR’s material.

***

Gabrielle Mulholland is a Toronto native and began her studies in illustration at OCAD University. She left OCAD to move to Montreal in 2014, and is now in her last year of print media at Concordia. This summer, Mulholland will be opening her own printmaking studio in the Plateau. Inspired by CUCCR’s focus on creative reuse, Mulholland began to consider the original saying, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” and how the emphasis was originally placed on reducing and recycling, not reusing.

Gabrielle Mulholland’s installation, x 11, consists of a papier-mâché screen print sculpture, a “snow pile” of found materials and an 8.5 x 11 inch tapestry. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Mulholland.

The artist’s experience of constantly being in the city forms the basis of her current work, which aims to challenge the idea that art and design create waste. Mulholland is particularly interested in producing work from garbage found on Montreal’s snowy, frozen streets. For the residency, she has created an installation called x 11. It consists of a papier-mâché screen print sculpture, a “snow pile” of found materials and an 8.5 x 11 inch tapestry. The exact composition of her piece will be revealed at the exhibition.

The tapestry was created from material sourced at a Renaissance thrift store and hand-dyed using a salt resist. “In the imagery on the tapestry, you can slightly see the original illustration student in me who was obsessed with human communication and symbols,” the artist said.

Mulholland is thrilled to be part of the first annual VAVxCUCCR residency. She said she hopes the exhibition will inspire artists and students alike to be more involved in creative reuse.

***

Laura Douglas has a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in environmental studies from McGill University, and is currently in her third year of studio arts at Concordia.

She works in a variety of mediums, including paint, textile and installation. Most, if not all, of Douglas’ work grapples with themes related to the environment. Her recent project was exhibited as part of the Art Matters Festival at Mainline Gallery’s Tender Teeth exhibit. She hand made a biodegradable quilt using organic fibres and placed seeds in the fibres that will grow upon long-term contact with soil. Her work will also be featured in Bright Lights / Blurred Vision, opening March 19 at 6 p.m. at La Récréation – Jeux de société et activités culturelles (404 Ontario St. E).

Laura Douglas built small hanging planters and larger self-watering planters out of recycled containers. Photo courtesy of Laura Douglas.

For the residency, Douglas created an installation of small hanging planters and large self-watering planters, using soil from public spaces and reused containers of varied sizes from CUCCR. She painted these containers to suit her desired aesthetic.

Douglas is particularly interested in the fact that cities are often built on the most fertile soil, yet lack large areas dedicated to gardening. As an artist and environmental activist, Douglas wants to use her work as a means of teaching others about how easy urban gardening can be. Self-watering planters can be made with two containers and mesh or burlap. The bottom of one container must be removed and replaced by the mesh or burlap, allowing water from a second container to be absorbed when needed.

***

Mikaela Kautzky is currently in her second year majoring in studio art and minoring in diversity and the contemporary world. She said she believes art is a valuable personal, social and cultural tool, but it lacks consideration in how it impacts the environment. Like Mulholland, Kautzky aims to deconstruct the wasteful nature of art-making.

In addition to waste, Kautzky’s work shines a spotlight on social and environmental degradation. She strives to lead a completely zero-waste lifestyle, meaning she only consumes unpackaged food items and commits to purchasing biodegradable products. Kautzky uses art as a tool to commit to no-garbage living.

“For one whole school year, I challenged myself to do a painting of every piece of trash I threw out, and I learned a lot about the issue through this creative research,” Kautzky revealed. “Now, going forward, I try to create with the least environmental harm as possible by using reused materials and less toxic paints in my art practice.”

“Rest In Peace Phil Folderino” is an ode to manual means of storing data. Mikaela Kautzky urges viewers to think about the impact art-making has on the environment. Photo courtesy of Mikaela Kautzky.

Kautzky volunteered with CUCCR during the fall semester, and she is quite familiar with the abundance of file folders kept in the depot. Her project for the residency, “Rest In Peace Phil Folderino” is an ode to manual means of storing data and questions whether or not online storage is truly the greener alternative. “It is ultimately just out of mind, out of sight,” Kautzky said.

The artist also dabbles in photography and fashion in Less_n, a larger project that demands a dialogue on contemporary consumption. Kautzky will be selling upcycled, second-hand shirts at September Surf Cafe and Pop-Up Shop on March 24 at 4123 St-Denis St. Details will be released on Instagram @mik00k and @less_n.

The Concordian has profiled the artists-in-residence each week leading up to CUCCR’s birthday event on March 22. Past issues have featured Bianca Arroyo-Kreimes, Gabrielle Desrosiers, Roxane Fiore and Saba Heravi.

Related Articles