Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

Datura at Espace Maurice brings the Rust Belt to Montréal

The show features works by Alex Patrick Dyck, Cléo Sjölander, Ariane Gagné (éli del), Tom  Roeschlein, Julien Parant-Marquis, Justin Apperley, Jason Van Hoose, Dylan Weaver and Paul Jackson Burgess.

The morning after my visit to Datura, the latest offering from Espace Maurice, I was confronted with a seemingly endless stream of people walking past me in their Sunday best: puffy jackets, Arcteryx tuques, and shiny sunglasses. They all appeared to be going to brunch, dressed up in their finest to go spend more money; a sign that the capitalist machine is happily turning. 

I noticed it because it couldn’t have been more different than what I was confronted with at Datura the day before. The group show, curated by the gallery’s founder Marie Sègoléne C. Brault, a Concordia graduate, features a wide variety of artists and practices whose works are entangled with the darker side of capitalism. 

All the works in the show were made in Youngstown, Ohio, many of them as part of a 10-day residency that took place during last fall. Through their subject matter and materiality, the artworks reflect the long lasting effects felt by a city that suffered greatly from the closing of factories during the 1970s. A number of the pieces were made by reusing materials like car window frames or rusted nails. 

Alex Patrick Dyck, thorn apple (trumpet flower), 2023, Found objects, antique air horns & trunk, mother of pearl, transparency film, tattoo ink. In Datura at Espace Maurice. Photo by Manouska Larouche.

The residency came to be—thanks to Brault who, upon viewing the documentary Greyland (dir. Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque), was taken with the story of Youngstown and got in touch with one of the local residents featured in the film, Rocco Sait. This marked the start of a collaboration that resulted in the Ohio residency in which artists from New York, Montreal, the Yukon, and Youngstown gathered to create the art currently on display at Espace Maurice. The show represents a small fraction of what was produced during the residency, but it is accompanied by a catalogue that documents the works as they were installed in Youngstown at a warehouse owned by Sait. 

This show considers the lived experiences of those born and raised in the shadows of shuttered steel factories, and poses the question: What about those who stay? The answer is found in the form of sculptural works that use wood, ceramic, nails, candlesticks, wrought iron, and plastic tarps used in construction, as well as in the form of paintings that reflect on the violence bred by economic inertia.

In some ways, the show’s curation mimics the imagery of places like Youngstown or Detroit, which are all too often defined by the distant memory of economic prosperity—images of abandoned mansions in disarray dominate the visual landscape in these places. This show engages with this visual mode, but with an added level of care and intention. 

On the floor beneath a painting on one wall is a selection of carefully lined up tchotchkes, like a silver letter opener and a small heart-shaped piece of resin with nails sticking out of the top. A similar object sits atop one of the light switches along another wall. The show rewards a desire to look in unexpected places—the floor, the light switch, and the window. 

The show’s namesake flower, datura, also known as moonshade or devil’s weed, is a member of the nightshade family. It is a poisonous flower, with psychoactive effects that can induce delirium. Indeed, there is a sense of delirium in the show. One can easily get lost within the works on display, and I would encourage everyone to do so. 

Datura will be on view at Espace Maurice until Feb. 16.

Dylan Weaver, Horse on The Runway, 2022, acrylic on canvas. In Datura at Espace Maurice. Photo by Manouska Larouche.

A space for cohabitation

  La Friche explores the duality between human and nature

Large pieces of bubble wrap, scattered still life illustrations of flowers, and a desk clad with a variety of guide books about foraging line the walls at articule, an artist-run centre situated in the Mile End. The space resembles a cross between a research lab and an artist’s workshop.

La Friche, the research-based multimedia project by Montreal-based artist Angela Marsh, aims to establish a relationship between human and nature. Through the collection of found objects and foraged plant fragments, the artist has created tapestries in an effort to reconcile the omnipresent duality between the organic and the manmade.

“[The tapestries] consists of all the little pieces of plants I’ve found in friches, in parking lots, in alleyways, in an effort to create a sort of cohabitation between humans and nature,” said Marsh.

“Friche”, the french word from which stems the title of the project, can be translated roughly to “wasteland.” In this context, Marsh uses it to describe a piece of land which was once inhabited by humans, and has since been abandoned and “colonized” by wild plants.

The tapestries consist of wild plants and seeds which have been sewn into the individual pockets in the bubble wrap. This is meant to serve as a form of protection; a method of preserving the plants from “a tension between the wild plants that are trying to survive, and this human controlled system that is always trying to control them,” according to Marsh.

The work tackles socio-political themes surrounding human desire and control, alongside our relationship with nature and the environment. These notions are explored through themes of preservation, which can be seen through the artist’s archival approach to the project.

“Where is our need to always control our environment and our spaces, and where can that cohabitation happen?” asked Marsh. This is considered through her work, wherein she unites the diversity of plants with her sewing and drawings. What she wanted was to have the two aspects living together. 

Marsh identified over 60 varieties of plants throughout the province, foraging them and drew them from observation. “It’s like having a quest for relationship with each plant, a quest for understanding and intimacy,” said Marsh of her still life sketches. “Each fragment of nature that we draw… it’s like we are creating a dialogue.”

The work demonstrates a cohabitation between the organic and the artificial. The plant fragments and weeds, representing the organic; the bubble wrap and the sewing, representing the artificial. Having the two cohabitate creates a conversation, leaving the viewer to question their roles, both individually and together.

“Botanists call [weeds] resilient plants that are able to survive in disturbed land,” explained Marsh. There was once a time when nature was the main disruptor, but the roles have since reversed. “These plants have adapted, the seeds have stayed dormant for years and when there is a disruption that is when they germinate.”

The act of sewing the seeds into the plastic served as a form of reparative gesture, according to Marsh. To sew is to mend what has been broken. In other words, this action served as a means of repairing, seeking responsibility for damage, and allowing for the possibility of a new life.

“Today it will not be the same piece as it will be tomorrow,” said Marsh. “This doesn’t trouble me at all.” She spoke of the constant state of evolution of her work, explaining that the piece has to obey natural laws. “I can’t impose my natural desire to have it preserved, it’s more nature than culture.”

The project is a work-in-progress, one that the artist aims to expand over the course of the next few years, as she collects field notes, sketches, and knowledge of the various flora that she finds throughout the province, and specifically within urban spaces.

“I see it as a source of hope in this age that we live in that I find is increasingly difficult to make sense of, one where we have all sorts of ecological crisis happening around us,” said Marsh, further explaining her interest in wild plants that are managing to survive within the city space. “They are a symbol of this regenerative capacity to be able to adapt and survive in conditions that are unsurvivable.”

Angela Marsh will continue to develop La Friche over the course of the next five to eight years, in an effort to further understand the evolution of wild plants within the city space in parallel with her work.


Photos by Laurence B. D.


Illustrating new worlds with old objects

Introducing two 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 art student-artists who will be featured in an exhibition on March 22. The artists have been tasked with creating zero-waste artworks using CUCCR’s materials.

The Concordian will profile the artists-in-residence each week leading up to the birthday event. Last week’s issue featured Bianca Arroyo-Kreimes’ animation, Ballad for the Spirits, and Gabrielle Desrosiers’ sunset studies.


Roxane Fiore has a DEC in graphic design from Ahuntsic College, and is now in her last year of painting and drawing at Concordia. She works primarily in drawing, but relies heavily on collage for inspiration and compositional components. Collage allows her to create new perspectives by enabling her to “access things that are beyond what I can invent,” Fiore explained.

Roxane Fiore sifted through magazines to find images suited to her vision.
Photo courtesy of Roxane Fiore.

While searching for images, Fiore looks for textures, colours and unrecognizable shapes among figurative imagery. She flips through magazines, tearing out and cutting up pieces that intrigue her. Then, she scans all she has collected in order to work with the images digitally.

“I have a large digital collection of random pieces that I can use and gather together, and there is a lot of chance happening in my work,” the artist revealed.

Fiore enjoys the element of surprise that comes with juxtaposing random images with each other. Once satisfied with the juxtaposition, the artist will add, remove and play with different features until she creates something balanced that catches her eye.

Sometimes, Fiore will take the individual collage pieces and make a manual assemblage to photograph. That process allows her to obtain shadows and create an interesting “trompe-l’oeil,” or illusion.

Usually Fiore creates large works, but for the CUCCR residency, she has adapted her process. “This time around, I was scanning through the material found at CUCCR with an idea of the type of imagery I was looking for,” Fiore said.

This project, titled Places I Have Never Been to; Things I Have Never Seen, is a series of small, square drawings measuring 7.5 inches, drawn in pastel and charcoal. “Their small size invites the viewer to search for details and experience the world through my eyes,” she said. This series illustrates her perception of the world. She is in a constant search for form, shapes, texture and colour. The pieces also exemplify how she crops images in her mind, focusing on the beauty within the everyday and the mundane.


Saba Heravi was born in Iran and moved to Canada five years ago to continue her studies in architecture. Heravi has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Azad University of Mashhad in Iran, and received her master’s in architecture here at Concordia. However, she always wanted to study fine arts and become a “career artist.” Heravi is currently finishing her third year in studio arts at Concordia, with a major in drawing.

Her work revolves around the ideas of home, identity and memory. As an immigrant, the collision of cultures and identity is the artist’s daily reality. Heravi’s work approaches this broad subject in fragments, so she can make sense of what is going on.

“I try to tell intimate stories by utilizing objects, stories and photographs,” Heravi explained. “In my work, objects and belongings become as important as the subject to expose the narrative. They are an integral part of my narrative.”

Heravi creates pocket worlds for the many different versions of herself. Photo courtesy of Saba Heravi.

Recently, she has been working on drawings of little worlds. The population of these worlds consist of women and young girls, all representative of herself. The artist’s characters are calmly engaged in strange activities and poses in relation to their surroundings. For example, some may be doing yoga, and some may be dropping or breaking things on purpose.
Initially, Heravi planned to use drawing as the main medium for the residency project. However, after exploring CUCCR’s depot, she realized drawing alone wouldn’t convey the message she was aiming for. “I decided to mainly use objects from CUCCR, and drawing as a secondary tool. This way, CUCCR’s recycled material would play the leading role in my project,” Heravi said.

The artist used a lot of stationary materials, fabric and string to accompany her drawings, as well as some hardware, like screws and bolts, to assist with the installation process.

“The objects vary, which I think is whats makes this projects challenging. You don’t necessarily find the objects you had in mind, and you will end up using something you had never thought of,” Heravi explained. At CUCCR, this very moment Heravi describes is referred to as “CUCCR magic.

Mark your calendars for CUCCR’s birthday at the VAV Gallery on March 22 at 6 p.m. Stay tuned for next week’s profiles of student-artists Gabrielle Mulholland, Laura Douglas and Mikaela Kautzky.

Feature photo courtesy of Saba Heravi


Cycles, transitions and reanimating materiality

Introducing two 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 art student-artists who will be featured in an exhibition on March 22. The artists have been tasked with creating zero-waste artworks using CUCCR’s material.

The Concordian will profile the artists-in-residence each week leading up to the birthday event.


Bianca Arroyo-Kreimes moved to Montreal from Toronto three years ago to pursue her studies in animation. Arroyo-Kreimes is an experienced digital artist and is currently in her third year in animation.

“I try to see my art as a way to explore the many ideas I have going on in my head,” she said. “It’s a way of resolving them, I guess.” Most of her past work focuses on mythology, humanity and identity. Arroyo-Kreimes enjoys experimenting with under-camera animation methods, such as stop-motion.

Her work, Ballad for the Spirits, is a collection of one-minute video loops that address ideas of karma, the afterlife and recycling. Using a great mass of odds and ends like buttons, metal knobs and string from CUCCR, Arroyo-Kreimes has given these seemingly random objects a new purpose, a new shape, body and voice.

“The objects are now awakened and alive again in the bardo [a state between death and rebirth], as objects pass from one hand to another similarly to the way karma works,” she said.

The way she sees it, karma, rejuvenation and the recycling of objects are linked and belong within the same imaginary venn-diagram.

Ballad for the Spirits is a collection of one-minute video loops that address ideas of karma, the afterlife and recycling. Photo courtesy of Bianca Arroyo-Kreimes.


Gabrielle Desrosiers completed a DEC in set and costume design at the École de théâtre de St-Hyacinthe in 2007, and began her BFA in studio arts at Concordia in 2014.
The foundation of Desrosiers’ work lies in her travel experiences. Last year, she spent a semester abroad at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, Israel.
Desrosiers is a multidisciplinary artist, focusing on performance art and installation, combining various elements and mediums. For the residency, she is presenting part of a research-based project. She is fascinated by the gradient colours of the sunset and twilight period right before nightfall. Currently untitled, Desrosiers’ installation questions the metaphysical and psychological effects, reactions and suggestions of this

Desrosiers’ piece is based on the gradient of colours found in the sky during sunsets and twilight. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Desrosiers.

natural, observable phenomenon.

“I paint gradient colours of the sky and sunset on a flat surface, which is similar to the frontal position our body takes to look at it,” Desrosiers said. “But, in fact, the sky is all around. The sky is not a surface; it is an intangible, three-dimensional thing.”

She explained that her goal is to recreate the gradie

nt motif on a structure by reconstructing the two-dimensional surface and transforming it into an engaging, three-dimensional experience.
“I think that the verb ‘to experience’ is really important here,” Desrosiers said. She reflects on the twilight period as a symbol of ending and beginning. “It’s a transition,” she said. “A moment of time sort of suspended […] It is the end of something, and the beginning of something else. It’s a cycle.”

Desrosiers selected material from CUCCR that seemed interesting in connection with her research. She recalled spending large amounts of time in the depot, which led her to be inspired by the textures and patterns, or materiality of the objects. Desrosiers’ installation uses large sheets of paper, found objects, latex paint and a kiosque tent, all courtesy of CUCCR.
The artist said she is glad to be part of the CUCCR residency, as its zero-waste goals are similar to her own. She reuses her own material and often re-integrates them into different projects. “I feel like there is no complete finality in each of my projects,” Desrosiers said. “They can continue to evolve or merge [with others].”

Mark your calendars for CUCCR’s birthday at the VAV Gallery on March 22 at 5 p.m. Stay tuned for next week’s profiles on student-artists Roxane Fiore and Saba Heravi. Follow the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse on Facebook and Instagram @cuccr.

Photos courtesy of the artists.

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