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Award-winning artist opens exhibition in Ottawa

Photo: Varsha Carpen

University of Ottawa Masters of Fine Arts candidate Stanzie Tooth opened her thesis exhibition this past weekend which was inspired by one of the most famous Canadian muses—Canada itself.

Tooth’s exhibition features a group of paintings addressing ideas of the contemporary landscape and her personal vision of the landscape. Her work also pays homage to the legacy of landscape painting in Canadian art, said Tooth, but focuses on “looking at it through the eyes of someone who is intimately connected to the land.”

Canada has a long history of landscape art which was made famous by the Group of Seven, a set of early 20th Century Canadian painters. From the mountain peaks of the West  to the coves and cliffs of the East, Canada is overflowing with natural beauty.

Tooth grew up on a forested property in rural Ontario which allowed her to develop the connection with land that she explores in her art. The title of Tooth’s exhibit, “Hand to Ground”, refers to the imagery of her work, which is the connection between figure and landscape. The name also refers to the act of painting itself, when we compare canvas to the ground.

Painting isn’t the only place Canadian’s use nature as a basis for inspiration. In Tooth’s thesis report, she references Margaret Atwood’s book Surfacing. The 1972 novel follows a woman’s return to her family home in rural Quebec, but finds that she feels no connection to the urban environment she now lives in, nor the rural environment she grew up in.

The book ties in with the exhibition’s theme of self-identification through a connection, or lack thereof, to the land.

Tooth’s exhibition is part of a partnership between the University of Ottawa and the Karsh-Masson Gallery. The U of O partners with public galleries around the City of Ottawa with the intent of providing mentorship and professional development opportunities for students.

“Instead of having your show in the school, you have it in a public institution where you are automatically connected with an audience and you have the professional experience and knowledge of the curators and staff of the gallery to help you facilitate your exhibition,” said Tooth.

Tooth was also the recipient of the Joseph Plaskett award earlier this year. This award is given each year to a promising young Canadian painter, providing them with the opportunity to study painting in Europe for a year.

Tooth’s exhibition runs until Sept. 10, and has a reception on Aug. 19.