The Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA) in Dawson City is going on the road.
Students and faculty will arrive in Whitehorse next week to bring a collaborative installation exhibit to Arts Underground.
For the first time since the school’s establishment in 2007, Arts Underground is hosting the annual student gallery show.
The students arranged and rearranged their individual Mylar works until together they cast a desirable, totem-like shadow
Last year, the show was hosted in Dawson during the Dawson City International Film Festival, and the previous three shows were held at the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse.
The 2012 class of 17 students has prepared MYLARchitecture, a collaborative project with Toronto artist Ed Pien and Yukon SOVA 2D studies instructor VeronicaVerkley.
Pien was the SOVA artist in residence from January 12 to 26.
His work includes experimentation with interactive installation drawings on Mylar (clear plastic sheets with the texture of slippery, sturdy paper), video projection, light and shadows.
During his residency, Pienchallenged the students ofVerkley’s class to develop “interconnected habitats for imagined creatures” using these materials.
“[Mylar] is a really beautiful material to work with,” says Verkley.
“When you first get it, it is just this flat sheet, and you are like, ‘What am I going to do with this?’ Then you start messing around with it and discover properties.”
Neither Verkley nor the students have worked with Mylar in this way before. However, one of the properties the students found (which Pien has never done before) was the effect of melting Mylar into oozing formations using a BIC lighter or a heat gun.
Other students used clear tape, hot glue and plastic wrap to transform the 8½ x 11″ Mylar sheets into creature habitats including chairs, sea anemone, lily pads, trees and fish tanks.
The gallery will be arranged with a video projector at the front of the room, casting 10-second clips the students filmed of their habitats onto the back wall. Coming out from one of the side walls will be a scrim, or a curtain-like sheer.
Between the projector and the scrim, the habitats will be suspended from the ceiling at different heights and distances from the projector, with fish line.
Collectively, the habitats will make three totem-like shadow pillars on the back wall.
It’s a layered piece, explains Verkley.
“You’ll see not just shadows and reflections of that one piece, but also shadows and reflections and projections from elements of that piece,” says Verkley.
She adds you will also see shadows of the gallery goers as they wander through the installation.
MYLARchiechture is the first cohesive project the class has collaborated on, but for some of the students, the greatest challenge was manipulating 11 to 15 Mylar sheets into a 3D object.
“Basically, you can do things like bending and folding, crumpling and burning, but really it was a lot of taping,” says student Alexandra MacDonald. “It was difficult to make that seem seamless.”
Taking the artwork is to Whitehorse is not only a chance at greater exposure for the students, but it helps define the often less-than-apparent Dawson/Whitehorse arts connection.
“[This] is something that can be vastly improved on,” says Rosemary Scanlon, program coordinator of Arts Underground.
She notes visiting artists passing through Whitehorse on their way to Dawson will stop to do talks, and Whitehorse artists do residencies in Dawson, shows at the ODD Gallery, and take part in the Riverside Arts Festival and Youth Art Enrichment program.
“I think the SOVA graduating show will be a wonderful opportunity for the Whitehorse audience to see all the wonderful and contemporary work that is being made up in Dawson,” says Scanlon.
“We are located on Main Street, so we get quite a lot of foot traffic compared to the Arts Centre that is up on the hill.”
MYLARchitecture opens March 8 with a reception at Arts Underground. Yukon SOVA administrator,Eryn Foster, will be doing an information session on the school on March 10 at 1 p.m.
The show coincides with the opening of Exquisite North, a collective exhibit by seven Yukon artists, and Bill MacBride’s Yukon, images of the territory from the ’50s, at Arts Underground.
MYLARchitecture concludes on March 31.