Some Art Is for Eating

The Yukon School of Visual Arts is abuzz with students and staff alike wrapping up their projects in time for the Mid-Year Student Exhibition & Open House.

The event is a chance for curious members of the community to see what goes on behind the doors of SOVA.

Guests will be able to visit the 2D (drawing) and 3D (sculpture) studios to view a diverse collection of student work, including the final 3D project: a sculpture made of 1,000 found objects. Students have been collecting an eclectic array of items- everything from buttons to bicycle spokes – for their assemblages.

Dawson City has a tradition of public socials that celebrate the holiday season. “The SOVA Open House goes a bit further by incorporating elements of exhibition and performance,” says Jen Laliberte, the English instructor.

The end-of-term assignment for the English class combines exhibition and refreshments. Students were asked to cook up something based on any passage that they chose from Tomson Highway’s novel Kiss of the Fur Queen.

The resulting product may or may not be edible, but luckily visitors will have a list of ingredients to consult before deciding to take a bite.

Laliberte enjoys how the event stands out from the many other open houses happening this holiday season.

“The SOVA Open House invites community members to view, experience, and interact with art in an unstructured and casual atmosphere that doesn’t fit into the usual expectations of an art exhibition,” she says.

“I especially like that it becomes really difficult to differentiate between art and hospitality, particularly with something like the Cooking Project for my class. Since it suggests the form of communal food for social sharing, the display of the work contributes to the art and open house mandates of the event.”

The SOVA Gallery will also showcase projects from the Over the Wire artist collaboration.

Because of the school’s extreme remoteness, exposure to new art and artists is fairly limited.

Over the Wire is a project that celebrates the isolation and mediates geographical distance by setting up correspondence between an artist and the students.

Each semester, a set of instructions created by a distant artist is delivered to the students. The students in turn interpret the instructions and create the work locally for exhibition.

This semester, the fourteen students are working with two established artists from Chicago: Steve Badgett and Deborah Stratman.

With the help of 4D instructor Charles Stankievetch, the students have been communicating with Deborah and Steve using Skype and Morse code. (4D refers to time-based art works.)

First, the students were asked to catalogue their daily habits. Then, inspired by thinkers like Georges Perec, they are creating new frameworks around chosen commonplace actions, places, objects, or phenomena.

Students were asked to “consider modifications in terms of accentuation, impedance, scale, ritualization, and improved function,” Badgett and Stratman wrote.

This new framework could take the form of a change in daily routine, such as an apparatus that would allow someone to brush their teeth in bed.

Thomas Usher placed red light bulbs in all the light fixtures in his house – emptying the hardware store of all its stock.

Three days into the experiment, he said it was confusing to walk outside into the pale blue winter daylight because it seemed so bright. He has now started wearing red-tinted glasses so he is always seeing red.

His final installation will consist of daily logs he has been keeping for the project’s two-week duration.

The Mid-Year Student Exhibition & Open House happens on December 17 from 5-7 pm at SOVA (corner of 3rd & Queen).

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