“Wayward to Arcadia” more than just a show for fine arts graduates

By Christina Zoernig

EDMONTON —  This week’s graduate show for Grant MacEwan University’s fine arts students is not only a showcase for their work, but also an opportunity to experience what it’s like to put on a show by themselves.

The process has been busy and long for MacEwan’s 24 fine arts graduates leading up to the their graduate show, “Wayward to Arcadia,” at the Centre for the Arts and Communications on 10045 – 156 Street from April 16 to 19.

Wayward to Arcadia 1

Fine art students Liz Lacousta (left) and Montana Cardinal (right) mount one of the featured pieces in Grant MacEwan University's "Wayward to Arcadia" on April 12, 2012. Photograph by Christina Zoernig.

“The exhibition is really a great opportunity for two things,” said Leslie Sharpe, chair of the Fine Art program at MacEwan. “One, of course, is to celebrate what they’ve done. The second is to have the opportunity to really do the work of putting up an exhibition. So that includes really messy things like painting walls, cleaning up walls and building stuff.”

All students have spent the last few days going around the CFAC campus cleaning and painting the walls before any of the displayed works are put up. Others have helped measure and arrange pieces in the two large-scale studios on the campus’s lower level.

However, this exhibit has been more than just a good experience for the students in terms of constructing a smaller art show. While students will have three to seven pieces on display, everyone had to send in a group of finished pieces to a jury who would also take part in the decision of which pieces will be featured in the show.

The jury was made up of Sharpe, who has taught in art schools in New York, California and the mid-west USA, fellow instructor Darci Mallon and their guest speaker, Latitude 53 executive director Todd Janes.

For student Alexandra Bischoff, who has seven works in “Wayward to Arcadia,” the process has proved an important one — particularly when deciding which pieces she wished to submit.

“We’re all very proud of every piece we create,” said Bischoff. “But I think our choices were dictated partially by what was strongest, what received strong feedback from our instructors, as well as what we wanted other people to see.

“That was kind of one of the questions. If you saw this piece in the grad show, would you be proud to show your family and friends?”

Bischoff’s pieces are in a variety of media: painting, drawing work and a site installation with photographs and clothing.  Some of the works took two to three weeks to complete.

Like many large-scale shows, it was not without its hurdles.

Students were left with the task of creating a name for the show, causing a lot of discussion and even conflict.

“One of the other students had suggested ‘wayward’ and they were trying to think of all these [names],” said student Kassandra Harvey. “Everyone was fighting about all the different names we could possibly have and so there was a lot of conflict. No one could agree.”

After considering multiple names based on “wayward to,” Harvey decided to give her input.

“I just kind of blurted out ‘Arcadia,’” said Harvey. “How about something with Arcadia because it’s supposed to be a place of peace and a lot of different things coming together.”

While not everyone is sold on the title, many students are too busy preparing for the exhibition’s show dates from April 16 to 19 between noon and 6 p.m.

Wayward to Arcadia is free of change and artwork will be made available for purchase.

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