Di­men­sions ex­hi­bi­tion

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Front Page - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG — mlieben­berg@prairiepost.com

A tour­ing ex­hi­bi­tion of hand­crafted items that show­cases the skill and cre­ativ­ity of Saskatchewan crafts­peo­ple is cur­rently on dis­play at the Art Gallery of Swift Cur­rent.

The Di­men­sions ex­hi­bi­tion is a bi­en­nial, ju­ried show by the Saskatchewan Craft Coun­cil (SCC) that pro­motes ex­cel­lence in hand­crafted work.

The items in this show were orig­i­nally se­lected for the Di­men­sions 2017 ex­hi­bi­tion in Saskatoon. Swift Cur­rent is one of sev­eral stops dur­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion’s 18-month tour to dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties.

The Di­men­sions ex­hi­bi­tion has been tak­ing place for over 30 years and it is a key com­po­nent of the ac­tiv­i­ties of the SCC.

“I have to say that this show is vi­tally im­por­tant,” SCC Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Pub­li­ca­tions Co­or­di­na­tor Vivian Orr told the Prairie Post. “It's one of the cor­ner­stones of the Saskatchewan Craft Coun­cil and it is also re­ally, re­ally im­por­tant to crafts­peo­ple in the prov­ince, be­cause this par­tic­u­lar ex­hi­bi­tion is open to any Saskatchewan craftsper­son. They do not have to ac­tu­ally be a mem­ber of the Saskatchewan Craft Coun­cil and we are al­ways thrilled when we dis­cover new tal­ent through our ex­hi­bi­tion.”

Crafts­peo­ple can sub­mit up to two hand­crafted items for con­sid­er­a­tion by the ju­rors. The Di­men­sions 2017 ju­rors were Regina artist Belinda Har­row and ce­ramic artist Jenna Stan­ton from Medicine Hat.

They se­lected 36 works by 35 crafts­peo­ple for the ex­hi­bi­tion. There were 183 en­tries by 109 crafts­peo­ple, in­clud­ing 22 emerg­ing artists.

“What makes this show re­ally unique is that un­like the vast ma­jor­ity of exhibitions, the ju­rors ac­tu­ally get to see the pieces, pick them up, walk around them, touch them, open them, tap their nail on it, what­ever, be­cause they ac­tu­ally see the phys­i­cal ob­ject,” Orr said. “The other thing that's re­ally unique about our ex­hi­bi­tion is that we look at it as an op­por­tu­nity to ed­u­cate the pub­lic and also an op­por­tu­nity for artists to get feed­back.”

The SCC’s con­tract with the ju­rors spec­i­fies that they must se­lect the best works among the el­i­gi­ble en­tries and they should not take on a cu­ra­to­rial role. The in­ten­tion of the ex­hi­bi­tion is to dis­play works that rep­re­sent a unique, in­di­vid­ual ex­pres­sion and that tran­scend tech­nique.

“Af­ter the ju­ry­ing the two ju­rors will then hold a pub­lic talk and they're there with all the pieces,” she said. “The artists and the pub­lic are in­vited to come in, and the ju­rors will talk about why they se­lected stuff, why things ap­pealed to them, what they were look­ing for, how the ju­ry­ing process works, how they have to make these re­ally tough de­ci­sions.… Then af­ter that they have that talk, artists and the pub­lic can ask ques­tions and that's an op­por­tu­nity for the artists to get feed­back on their work.”

Ac­cord­ing to Orr it is im­por­tant for the SCC to have Di­men­sions avail­able as a tour­ing ex­hi­bi­tion to dif­fer­ent gal­leries.

“We're re­ally proud of the work that gets cho­sen and we're re­ally proud of the artists who have put so much time, ef­fort and per­sonal vi­sion into the work that's been se­lected,” she said. “So we re­ally, re­ally want the pub­lic to see the work, to re­al­ize the tal­ent that we have in the prov­ince, and to per­haps start rec­og­niz­ing some of the names.”

The SCC will send an in­for­ma­tion pack­age about the ex­hi­bi­tion to gal­leries in Saskatchewan and out­side the prov­ince.

“It's up to the gal­leries to de­cide whether or not they want to have the ex­hi­bi­tion there,” she said. “Most gal­leries are work­ing one, two, three years in ad­vance in terms of sched­ul­ing. So it's re­ally a case of do they have a slot, is it some­thing they want to show, stuff like that.”

It has been a while since a Di­men­sions ex­hi­bi­tion made its way to Swift Cur­rent. Art Gallery of Swift Cur­rent Direc­tor and Cu­ra­tor Kim Hough­tal­ing said the pre­vi­ous one came to the city about six year ago.

“As a vis­ual art gallery, we present fine art work and me­dia work, and craft is one of the ar­eas,” he noted. “It’s not al­ways very prac­ti­cal or avail­able to have an ex­hi­bi­tion of re­ally fine craft and so this is a very prac­ti­cal show for us. It’s just a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity for us to have an ex­hi­bi­tion that re­ally has a lot of great ex­am­ples of work from around the prov­ince and it also gives our au­di­ences in the area the op­por­tu­nity to look at fine craft. We have a lot of very good crafts­peo­ple in this area and some of them make sub­mis­sions to that ex­hi­bi­tion and oth­ers that the Craft Coun­cil pro­duces.”

For crafts­peo­ple in south­west Saskatchewan the pres­ence of the ex­hi­bi­tion in Swift Cur­rent is an op­por­tu­nity to have a look at the works that were se­lected as the finest ex­am­ples of a cer­tain craft.

“They can cer­tainly com­pare them­selves to that and have a sense of the next level of crafts­man­ship and de­sign,” he said. “It is also very con­firm­ing for them, be­cause they’re kind of work­ing in iso­la­tion and they’re all putz­ing away in their shop and mak­ing some­thing that’s quite won­der­ful and they don’t know if they’re part of a larger world. So when they have ac­cess to an ex­hi­bi­tion like that it inspires. It makes them keep work­ing and want­ing to, be­cause they rec­og­nize that it is im­por­tant in the art world.”

The Di­men­sions 2017 ex­hi­bi­tion will be on dis­play at the Art Gallery of Swift Cur­rent un­til Sept. 1.

The gallery is open Mon­day to Thurs­day from 1-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m., and Friday to Sun­day from 1-5 p.m. It is closed on statu­tory hol­i­days and on Sun­days in July and Au­gust.

Photo by Matthew Lieben­berg

Cre­ative glass artist Kim­ber­ley Dick­in­son of Saskatoon won an award for ex­cel­lence in glass for these four items that rep­re­sent the beauty of the con­stantly chang­ing four sea­sons.

T

This wax etched stoneware piece by Maia Stark of Saskatoon is ti­tled Bet­ter Left Alone.

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