Empty Aviary runs until March 29. Photo: Parker Townes.
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Empty Aviary focuses on avian life, relationship with humans

Following a wide-ranging call for art submissions about the avian world, five artists are now featured in Empty Aviary, an exhibit curated by the University of Ottawa’s Art History Students Association hosted in Gallery 115 until March 29.

What makes this exhibit unique within the visual arts department is that that artists are not exclusively students from the U of O.

“In the show there is work by both a professor and an MFA student represented, as well as external artists with no affiliation to the university,” said Talia Golland, a fifth-year history and theory of art student. “So I think that it really bridges a lot of different artistic communities, both within and outside of the university.”

According to Golland, “It was developed through an open call to submissions that we sent out to the visual arts community within the university, but also outside it, in Ottawa, Montreal, the surrounding artists networks. We picked five artists to participate from these submissions we received.”

Phoebe Sampey, a fourth-year history and theory of art student and president of the Art History Student Association, spoke to how the theme of the exhibit was created.

“We wanted to have a loose enough theme that we could build from. Our initial idea was birds, so then we just kind of built off of there, and through our submissions we were able to pick a cohesive group of artists that would work well together thematically, and also visually.”

“It is important, (when curating an exhibit with) submissions that we hadn’t seen yet, to have a theme that could potentially sort of encompass a variety of different technically but also theoretical approaches from potential participating artists,” Golland elaborated.

Because of the looseness of the theme, it allowed Empty Aviary to showcase a wide range of pieces across diverse mediums, including oil painting, ceramics, video, and sculpture. The interpretations of “avian” ranged from life-like ceramic owls to performance pieces about Twitter. The works were created by François Combe, Martin Golland, Svetlana Swinimer, Marko Tonich from Université Laval, and Sharon VanStarkenberg.

Their program defined the works of art as “varied evocations (that) draw upon a range of coexisting symbologies which find their corporeal embodiment in the diverse array of avian forms.”

Empty Aviary runs from March 19-29 in Gallery 115, free of charge.