Juried Art Show Highlights

Visual Arts students showcase their work

By Kassandra Rossi, Contributor

Every year, Lakehead University Visual Art students submit work to be chosen for the Juried Show at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. The Juried Show provides an opportunity for students to show off their art, the stories behind them and have the chance to win awards and recognition for their hard work and masterpieces. There is also a Major Studio Exhibition held annually for the graduating class of Visual Arts students that is ongoing at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Both shows are great ways to support LU Visual Arts students and discover some amazing works of art.

The Argus spoke to four LU Visual Arts students: Vanessa Ervin, a fourth year Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Visual Arts and minoring in Women’s Studies; Erika Niva, second year HBFA, specializing in painting and ceramics; Shayla Hickerson, a fourth year HBFA, majoring in Visual Arts and minoring in Women’s Studies; and Jillian Jurimae, first year HBFA in Visual Arts.

Ervin has been apart of the Juried Show for the past four years. She currently has a three-part art piece in the Juried Show, “Baby’s First Construct”, which won the Department of Visuals Art Award. “This piece is about the developmental stage of kids and the social construction of gender,” says Vanessa. She adds, “The developmental stage is when kids learn who they are and how they should be. From a young age, we associate that pink, barbies and makeup are for girls and that blue, trucks and dirt are for boys.”

Baby’s First Construct – Photo by Vanessa Ervin

Her piece includes a box with two holes in the shape of a female sign and a male sign with corresponding pieces that should fit in but do not: gender roles, assumptions, colours and characteristics.

“This represents the binary box that society places gender in. Society teaches that there are only two ways to be and that men and women can only be a certain way. However, in my art piece, none of the blocks fit in the cut out holes that are [in] the box, as I want to show that gender is not binary.”

The second component to her piece is a children’s ring stacking toy. This is made up of stacked triangles which create the safe space symbol. The third component is an inclusive and progressive alphabet, including tiles such as “A is for Allies, B is for Body Positivity, C is for Consent.” This piece challenges society’s construct of gender and what society is teaching about gender.

Ervin also has 4 pieces in the Major Studio Exhibition; 2 sculptures (“What Was She Wearing” and “Table Talk”), an interactive piece (“More Than Numbers”), and a drawing (“Everyday Object(ification): Lamp. Washing Machine. Piece of Meat. Ticking Clock. Maid.”).

Niva’s work has appeared in the Juried Show for the second year in a row. This year two of her ceramic pieces, “Stressed Out”, a small coral sculpture, and “Life Goes On”, a large ceramic moose are in the show. Erika states that “both works talk a bit about the effects of human interference on the natural world.” Her third piece is a painting titled “Where Am I Going?”. She explains, “It’s somewhat of a visual pun because of the fact that the painting is an abstracted point of view from the passenger of a car, so the question is valid in asking “where is the car going?” says Erika, “But it also asks the personal question of where is the viewer going? Where am I going in my life? In my artistic pursuits?”

Hickerson entered two works this year, her fourth consecutive year in the Juried Show. Her drawing “Just Another State of Mind”, an illustrative line drawing (self portrait distortion) received the Rust Check Award. Her second work is a painting, “A Day at the Salon”. “It is an acrylic painted on wood panels with attached light bulbs to imitate a client sitting in a salon chair getting their haircut (comment on the social pressure of body mods) and the view becomes the client – the painting is a mirror display,” explains Shayla. “Both pieces are inspired by my personal experiences and reflecting on my coursework based on identity and feminist concepts.” Shayla also has five pieces in the Major Studio Exhibition.

Jurimae submitted four works for her first year in the Juried Show. “Whale of Hope” and “Perseverance of Spirit” are two sculptures, one made of ceramic and the other a plaster sculpture. Jillian lives in a rural community and explains that her piece “Perseverance of Spirit” is a reflection of her home there, and represents a deep emotional connection for her.

In her backyard, she has foxes that she feeds, many of which are missing legs from illegal trapping using snare wires. She says, “I want to bring awareness and focus on the playfulness of the fox. When people can focus on a positive aspect, like the playfulness of the fox, they don’t want to cause harm to the animals.” Through her artwork she hopes to create conversations around animal justice, and to incorporate her artwork and activism into a future career.

Jurimae also has two prints, “Eagle Raven Owl” and “Two Birds of a Feather”; the latter won the Lakehead University Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities Award for Printmaking (2019).

Throughout the interviews it was mentioned how the Juried Show and Major Studio Exhibition are great opportunities for the Visual Arts students to showcase their work and get their name out into the community. It’s a valuable event to help students get their name out in the local art scene and recognition for all the hard work they have put in to create their masterpieces. The shows are also a fantastic way for other Visual Arts students, teachers, family, friends, loved ones, faculty and the community to come celebrate and admire the work of the students. As Lakehead University students, supporting one another and appreciating the work we do is something that should be celebrated and encouraged.

The show is currently running and ends April 8th, so be sure to go and check it out!