The Sculptors Society of Canada presents Emerging Sculptors 2022, a juried show with the following selected participants: Mei Chan-Long, Michael Drolet, Ante Benedickt Kurilić, Brenda Nieves, Amberlie Perkin, Sean C. Robertson, and Martina Skuce.
The jurors also selected four award winners. Ante Benedikt Kurilić won the top award (Greenrock Charitable Trust Award) for Permanent Resident. The tall, strong looking figure wears work boots and clay-coloured clothes that make us think he is a working man. Being a permanent resident means that he can stay in Canada as long as he wants and after a few years he can apply for citizenship. He holds to a leather strap indicating that he is using public transportation. He seems to be happy. What makes us stand a bit longer in front of this figure is that his head is not fully attached to his body. Does he have identity issues? Many immigrants have to face the fact that they can’t work in the professions they did at home, but they have to take jobs for which they are over-qualified. The artist wrote that his works focus on “exploring the identity of belonging and the absence of dreams”, among other issues.
Permanent Resident, cast iron, steel, plastic tube, 80″ x 24″ x 19″
Amberlie Perkin won the Won Lee (Posthumous) Sculpture Award for Swallow’s Sleep. The unusual bulging shape with seemingly deep hollows challenges our perception at first sight. What are those holes for? Looking at the title we have a moment of recognition; those are swallow’s nests constructed like apartment buildings — something that you don’t find in nature. Perkin wrote, “My creative process enacts the materiality of mourning — using grief and loss as lively material with which to build new forms, while formalizing the presence of absence.” Indeed, she created a totally new form for natural purposes with a very visible absence of any living thing.
Swallow’s Sleep, mixed-media, 47″ x 41″ x 34″
Brenda Nieves is the recipient of the Artcast Inc. Award for The Keeper. What does this late relative of horned mythological figures, like a Minotaur or faun, represent in our time? Nieves’ previous work addressed nature, using plants and flowers as her inspiration, so this piece may have something to do with nature as well. Depicting a woman’s head as the keeper brings the element of nurturing into the composition. Her face radiates life and kindness, suggest a caring attitude, keeping everything safe and alive. She could be seen as a deer totem, worshipped by her people.
Brenda Nieves with The Keeper, stoneware, cotton, 30″ x 20″ x 10″ at the opening reception
In Sirens of Covid, Nieves focuses on a very contemporary issue. One face of the three-faced figure is wearing a mask as a precaution, while another has just removed hers but still seems worried. The emotional expression and pastel coloring of the faces make the sculpture rather poetic. COVID has created fear in most people for a long time and that has changed their personality, their way of living, and their attitude toward others.
Brenda Nieves, Sirens of Covid, ceramics, wire
Martina Skuce received the MST Bronze Ltd. Award for her work Serenity. The rounded, globe-like shape radiates peace and completeness, while the top part points to higher spheres. Skuce said about her method, “Sculpting in stone allows my creativity to become my source of meditation and removes me from the everyday world. My mind stills and becomes one with the stone.”
Martina Skuce (left) and juror Ania Biczysko (right) at the opening reception
Martina Skuce, Serenity, chlorite, 13″ x 13″ x 4″
Mei Chan-Long’s steel compositions are very dynamic. Music stands out with its playfulness; we can feel the rhythm and imagine the movement of a dancing couple.
Mei Chan-Long, Music, steel
The deepness of Sean C. Robertson composition is almost mesmerizing. The two oval shapes in Hope guide our eyes toward a “golden egg” that symbolizes our desires and gives us hope that we can reach them.
Sean C. Robertson, Hope, soapstone, 24 K gold
Michael Drolet’s abstract sculptures are one of the most interesting pieces in the exhibition. Pass-Through is built from geometrical shapes, creating a rather unique labyrinth that also pleases the eye with its vulnerable balance. It is amazing how the light wooden rectangular structure can keep the heavy granite rods up in their place. On top of everything the construction also stands on one of its corner-edges, so you expect it to fall over at any minute. This unusual composition gives the sculpture a sense of movement, like it might rotate around the point where it is grounded.
Michael Drolet, Pass-Through, wood granite
Images are courtesy of Canadian Sculpture Centre
*Exhibition information: Emerging Sculptors 22, July 23 – August 19, 2022, Canadian Sculpture Centre, 19 Mill Street, Distillery District. Gallery hours: Mon – Sat, 11 am – 6 pm; Sun, 12 – 5 pm.