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Studio Sixty Six features abstract exhibit with U of O alumni

Photo: Maitland Shaheen

It’s not a secret that Ottawa’s art scene is expanding and improving, and one of the city’s newest art galleries is proof of just that.

Last year, independent art gallery Studio Sixty Six opened for business at 66 Muriel Street in the Glebe. They have since amassed an impressive collection of local artwork and curated numerous successful exhibitions. The gallery’s current exhibit, Approaching Form, features four Ottawa artists, all of them alumni of the University of Ottawa.

One of the four artists featured, Gabriela Avila-Yiptong, recently completed her B.F.A. at the U of O and credits her time there as an element in her evolving artistry. Her paintings were inspired by landscape photographs, taken in areas that hold emotional significance to her.

“The theme really is memory and the psychological space you have when you experience these places,” she says. “Once I’ve taken the images that I’m drawn to, I collage them into something that doesn’t really make sense.”

She says that although her paintings maintain elements of representational imagery, her style has developed into “an abstract motif.”

Avila-Yiptong is not the only one who uses psychology as an inspiration for her art. Shelby Dawn Smith, also a B.F.A. graduate, says that her minor in psychology is something that she often uses throughout her work.

“It’s very process oriented, I won’t really have a plan in mind when I go in to make my painting,” she says. “I react to each gesture as I go. It usually ends up reflecting a subconscious kind of feeling. There is, even without your intent, always something underlying.”

All four artists featured in the exhibit are showing paintings inspired by elements of varying disciplines, including biology, the human body, psychology, and landscape.

Natalie Bruvels, one of the other painters in the exhibit, holds a B.S.C. in biology from the U of O, and uses this background in science in her art by focusing on the abstraction in anatomy. Jordan Clayton, the final painter featured, is a B.F.A. graduate whose paintings are inspired by microscopic organisms and scientific research.

Apart from participating in the exhibition, Smith is also organizing the U of O B.F.A. graduation show this year. This annual exhibit celebrates emerging artists who come from the U of O’s department of visual arts as they begin to pursue their professional careers. Studio Sixty Six’s current exhibit is a perfect example of the success these graduates can hope to achieve.

“(It) really prepared me to enter the world of fine arts,” says Avila-Yiptong of her time at the U of O. “That’s something I really appreciated, and I was lucky to have such a good community at uOttawa.”

It’s clear that U of O graduates are a driving force in the development of Ottawa’s expanding art scene. As more and more talented artists graduate each year, the scene can only keep growing.

Approaching Form will be on display until Oct. 4 at Studio Sixty Six galleries, 66 Muriel Street, Suite 202.




  • Spring 2022: Desiree Nikfardjam Fall 2021: Zofka Svec 2020-2021: Aisling Murphy 2019-2020: Ryan Pepper 2018-2019: Iain Sellers 2017-2018: Ryan Pepper