U of O students bring talent to cross-province culmination at Gallery 115

When University of Ottawa’s art history students put forth an open call for artwork that evokes a sense of home, artists from across Ontario responded with photo installments for a new exhibition at the student-run Gallery 115.

This exhibition, titled ABODE, features University of Ottawa students and other Ontario artists from Toronto and Hamilton, who aimed to explore the concept of “home” and whether or not that idea is tied to a specific place or emotion.

“We came up with the concept ‘ABODE’ to kind of explore the spaces and geography of what home is, (and whether it’s) stable or unstable,” said Beatrice Au, a fifth-year art history major at the U of O and one of the three curators of the event.

“We came up with our curatorial concept and then we put out an open call to the university,” said Phoebe Sampey, a fellow curator and a fourth-year art history major . “We also went on Art Engine, so you can post submissions to people from all across Canada.”

The six artists recruited for this project communicated this theme through a variety of mediums, including photography, sculptures, and site-specific installations.

The idea of relocation and diaspora appeared in many of these artists’ works.

Ghanaian immigrant Daniel Effah captured photos that evoked his home country, while Six Nations artist Alex Jacobs-Blum did the same for  his Indigenous community near Grand River.

“Different factors can affect how people associate notions or feelings of home with particular geographic spaces and how that can be complicated by relocations and displacement, and perhaps diaspora,” added Golland.

“I think it was kind of a subset of what we envisioned home to be,” Au explained on the theme of relocation. “Being Canadian, and especially featuring six Canadian artists, there is that element of diaspora in people of colour.”

As a bachelor of fine arts student, and upcoming grad show curator, Rebecca Bair caught her native Jamaica on camera. She arranged the photos as an installation, giving the viewer the chance to walk around the pictures, to sit at the table laid out with Jamaican cuisine, and feel as if you can take a book off the shelf, even if it’s just a photo.

“You can walk through the space of the photographs,” said Au. “She came to us with the images and also how she envisioned her work being installed, so we worked with her with that.”

Master of fine arts student Sarah Fuller also displayed her photography, which captured a vanished town by projecting buildings onto a screen in the Yukon forest.

“Sarah’s series is documentation of a site-specific installation which she created, which was creating a sort of almost ghostly presence or remnant of buildings that used to be in that particular location,” Golland explained.

“A central idea within the statement we created is that home doesn’t have a singular stable definition,” Golland summarized. “And because of a whole variety of factors, it means very many different things to different people.”

ABODE runs until March 31 in Gallery 115 at the Visual Arts building from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is free.