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Yael Brotman & Kim Stanford at loop

In her current show at loop, Yael Brotman exhibits her new installation, Time. Story. Tree. When Brotman attended an artist residency at Haida Gwaii in the summer of 2016 she wanted to get as close to the ancient sacred trees as possible, without touching them, since it is forbidden. The way she accomplished this and created her works was through direct textural rubbings of the barks of the sacred trees. These rubbings are mainly on Mylar or paper, then transferred onto silkscreens and used to construct her sculptural pieces through the process of folding and connecting them with tape.

Brotman explained that she was enchanted by the legends she heard and read in Haida Gwaii about magic animals like turtles, ravens and eagles and by the one about Foamwoman. She was surprised to recognize some parallels between this tales and Western mythology. Her sculpture, titled Big Woman, is a representation of the legend of Foamwoman who is reminiscent of Diana of Ephesus from the Greco-Roman mythology. Both women possessed multiple breasts that were meant to feed and nurture the earth. Brotman used theatre gels to emphasize the shape of the woman and to add some colors to the sculpture.

Yael Brotman, Big Woman, silkscreen on Mylar, graphite, tape, and theatre gels, 2017. Courtesy of the artist

Her second sculpture, In the house of saving things, is also produced through the process of silkscreen on Mylar. However, she has left this work up for open interpretation. As she witnessed a few times, viewers often interpreted this piece as seeing a horse or some kind of wild animal. Brotman also designed the bases of the sculptures that enables them to turn around. As part of her artist residency, after the exhibition, the sculptures will be shipped to Haida Gwaii where they will be used to tell creation myths of the land.

Installation view of Yael Brotman, Time. Story. Tree with In the house of saving things (left), loop Gallery 2017. Courtesy of the artist

Kim Stanford’s exhibition, You knocked my teeth out, displays a reflection of the domestic realm while allowing domestic fantasy to show through. Through her works the artist displays the struggle of trying to keep a family together with and against of all the dysfunctional elements that accompany it. The idyllic image of a functioning, happy, easy-going family is a dream that doesn’t work in everyday life. While trying to keep a family together the members often have to compromise and self-censorship tends to occur, creating frustration and psychosis.

Installation view of Kim Stanford, You knocked my teeth out, loop Gallery, 2017. Photo: Victoria DeChellis

Stanford uses both sculpture and collage. Her single sculpture piece is composed of general household items, including a duster, lids, knitted scarf, and plastic containers. When looking at the sculpture closely one can see a row of six teeth – maybe the ones that have been knocked out in some domestic dispute that turned violent – embedded in the central wooden piece. Stanford’s collages change patterns as she is saying different stories of this family saga and her sculptural piece seems to be the three-dimensional summary that embodies the essence of all. Looking at them the viewer has the unsettling and familiar feeling that something is just not right, that something bad might happen.

Installation view of Kim Stanford, You knocked my teeth out, loop Gallery, 2017.  Photo: Victoria DeChellis

The exhibitions of Brotman and Stanford, however different their themes and artistic approach, work intricately well together.

Victoria De Chellis

*Exhibition information: Yael Brotman, Time. Story. Tree. and Kim Stanford, You knocked my teeth out, February 25 – March 19, 2017, loop Gallery, 1273 Dundas Street West, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Thur 12 – 5, Fri -Sat 12 – 6, Sun 1 – 4 pm.

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