John Noestheden: Sky & Shuvinai Ashoona: Earth
On the surface, John Noestheden and Shuvinai Ashoona represent an unlikely pairing for joint solo shows. Noestheden, who has recently moved from Regina to Hamilton, is widely admired for his crystalline visions of the cosmos. Ashoona, a much sought-after Inuit artist, is the creator of startlingly original images of the land inspired by her Cape Dorset home.
In 2008, Calgary curator Wayne Baerwaldt invited the artists to collaborate on a monumental banner for the Stadthimmel (City Sky) project in Basel, Switzerland. The result was Earth and Sky, a drawing with both Arctic landscapes and astronomical bodies, which the artists transferred to a 40-meter-long outdoor banner that caught the eyes of spectators on the street below. A second banner was produced for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche later that year. The outdoor banner will appear next at the 18th Biennale of Sydney summer of 2012.
In recognition of this important international project, the five-metre-long preparatory drawing for Earth and Sky will be on display along with other collaborative drawings, linking the two exhibitions.
While never formally trained in the graphic arts, Shuvinai Ashoona grew up in a rich artistic environment. Her father Kiugak, mother Sorosilooto, grandmother Pitseolak Ashoona, and aunt Napachie Pootoogook are all renowned Inuit artists. Rendered with meticulous detail and precision, Ashoona’s drawings blend innovative compositions with objects and elements of everyday life in Cape Dorset. While earlier works featured complex landscapes and shifting perspectives, new works depict human figures, and utilize a wide spectrum of colours.
For the past twenty years, John Noestheden has produced large-scale works on paper. The history of astronomical observation has inspired a good portion of that work, from the flaming tails of Halley’s comet embroidered into the Bayeux tapestry to the latest galactic revelations from the Hubble Space Telescope. Ironically, signal noise and loss of fidelity are as much a part of these images as the desire for true knowledge.
The exhibitions Sky and Earth offer a chance to consider the remarkable visions of two artists working from two different cultural perspectives. While the images differ, the questions are the same. How do we know what we know? What is the ground of our existence and the limits of our vision? Their artworks help articulate our place in the cosmic order, while acknowledging the boundaries of our comprehension.
Don’t miss the Opening Reception!
Curated by: Timothy Long, Head Curator and Michelle LaVallee, Associate Curator, MacKenzie Art Gallery
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Image: John Noestheden, Descartes, 2011, 152.4 x 101.6 cm, acrylic and ink on paper