Halfway/Between is a two-part exhibition that features the work of 11 graduating students of the art and art history program. Currently on display at both the Blackwood Gallery and e|gallery, Halfway showcases the artists’ diverse perspectives and approaches to the idea of interstice—the narrow, often unknown gap, between the present and future. As the graduating class prepares to enter a new chapter, their works emphasize the current transitional space they occupy—somewhere halfway.
Upon entering the Blackwood Gallery, I am immediately drawn to Alissar Soujaa’s three-part painting series, depicting different iterations of water. All three canvases slightly sway as they are suspended from the ceiling with nearly invisible fishing lines, allowing movement to the piece. The first painting, titled “Seascape,” portrays an abstract but clear representation of water. Numerous shades of blue are utilized to fill the canvas while small brushstrokes of white paint provide dimension. The second painting, “Against the Tides,” is a portrait of a woman engulfed in waves. Her dark brown hair and detailed facial features stand in stark contrast against the light turquoise background. Lastly, “Fernweh” is a traditional landscape painting and shifts away from the previous two aquatic illustrations. For me, the image feels like a conclusion, as the ominous grey skies transition into warm-toned yellows and pinks. Although water is still present, the relation between the sky and green fields maintains focus and evokes a feeling of serenity.
In the exhibition brochure, Soujaa says her paintings “ultimately represent escapism.”
“‘Fernweh,’ in particular, represents a place I dream of, that I can escape to,” Soujaa says.
Another piece I found compelling was Cherie Novecosky’s water-colour monoprints, exploring the unconscious state of our bodies during sleep. Each print portrays a different unmade bed, visualizing the link between body and mind through the stages of rest.
Novecosky explains, “Our bodies twist and skew our bed sheets during sleep, leaving traces of our psychic lives. Can these sheets reveal the joy, fear, and separation we experience during the day?”
The images are simplistic and printed in black and white, leaving the piece largely to personal perception. Along with the prints, a handwritten note is mounted on the wall. The title “Guest House” can be interpreted as a metaphor for our bodies housing all the emotions we experience. Perhaps these feelings come and go, but they impress upon and shape who we are.
Also noteworthy is Yihan Li’s work displayed at the e|gallery. “Please Take One: Invasive Species” is a sculptural stack of papers over three feet tall, composed of drawings of invasive species spanning from thirteen countries. At first glance, the piece is minimalist but bold. Li intends for the species to be hidden from immediate view to visualize how they aren’t noticed until they cause serious damage. I reach for the paper at the top of the stack to discover incredibly detailed and unique line drawings of a squirrel and bear. Li says that she drew the animals overlapping each other to “show their influence and power at varied scales.” By combining elements of the increasingly hazardous effects of invasive species, Li presents a personal and creative means of spreading awareness.
Halfway runs until March 31. Between will serve as the conclusion of the graduating exhibition, from April 4 to 14.