Art Toronto 2019
Audie Murray, Jason Baerg, Maureen Gruben, Couzyn van Heuvelen
October 25 – 27, 2019
Fazakas Gallery Booth C45 presents Just Breathe: In an era of ecological crisis, the calming mantra of telling oneself to just breathe becomes an unsettling paradox that Fazakas Gallery explores through the works of Jason Baerg, Maureen Gruben, Couzyn van Heuvelen, and Audie Murray.
In an era of ecological crisis where global air quality rests at an all-time low, the calming mantra of telling oneself to just breathe becomes an unsettling paradox. Works by Jason Baerg, Maureen Gruben, Couzyn van Heuvelen, and Audie Murray bracket and question the hyper ecologies of waste, as materials such a plastic, toilet paper rolls, and neon fishing lures are refashioned into objects with often personal messages. The following artists, at times literally, weave materials with their praxis into works of art that explore relationships to the land which highlight ongoing environmental concerns. Drawing from existing materials in the natural world, personal and ancestral knowledge forms are articulated in new and innovative ways. Gruben stitches the landscape of Tuktoyaktuk with bright red thread through ice, while Murray beads and breathes new life into pairs of workers gloves which might otherwise meet their fate in a garbage bin. Baerg re-purposes plastics into acidic multi-layered landscapes, as van Heuvelen’s fishing lures make use of contemporary materials while celebrating Inuit methods of hunting at sea. Within each work, a new visual language is created wherein culture and identity are actively explored. By working within this complex web of social and ecological interconnectedness, Baerg, Gruben, van Heuvelen, and Murray string together a connective tissue between land, found objects, and natural materials, all the while exploring ancestral relations to the land. With environmental concerns on the rise, one might ask: what is the role of art? The exhibited works instead ask us to re-formulate the question to: how might art transform our relationship to the environment?
Jason Baerg is a Cree Métis curator, educator, and visual artist. As a visual artist, he pushes new boundaries in digital interventions in drawing, painting and new media installation. Often through means of visual abstraction, Baerg’s projects work with various themes such as language, the Anthropocene, and Indigenous connections to land and the environment.
Maureen Gruben is an artist based in Victoria, BC and Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Through disassembling and re-forming polar bear fur, moose hides, seal skins, and gathered kelp, she forges a link between threatened arctic lands and communities, as well as international environmental and human conditions. In several works, she addresses the historical persistence of specific forms, as ancestral tools re-emerge in new mediums such as concrete or fiberglass, and at altered scales.
Couzyn van Heuvelen explores Inuit culture and identity, new and old technologies, and personal narratives. While rooted in the history and traditions of Inuit art, his work strays from established Inuit art-making methods and explores a range of fabrication processes. His large- scale fishing lure sculptures reference traditional and historical Inuit production. He used a wide range of fabrication processes to incorporate aluminum, wood, ceramics, and other materials into the installation. His use of newer manufacturing processes to explore rapid prototyping technologies allowed him to create work that references traditional Inuit technologies and allows the objects to be seen from a fresh and modern perspective.
Audie Murray is a multi-disciplinary Métis artist from Saskatchewan currently based in Victoria, BC. Working with themes of contemporary Indigenous culture and ideas of duality and connectivity, Murray draws on time honoured techniques and contemporary concepts to inform her material choices. She often uses found objects from daily life, and then modifies them with special materials and techniques as a way to reclaim or work-through the cultural content of the object. Murray completed a Diploma in Visual Arts at Camosun College in 2016, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Regina in 2017.