September 7 - November 2
Artist reception Thursday September 12th, 5 – 7pm
Our fall season opens with Distillates, featuring Cathy Daley, Nathalie Maranda, and Pilar Mehlis. Each artist’s work distills forces – sociological, environmental, cultural and geographical, that shape their inspiration and identity. Daley dances with socialized notions of femininity. Maranda’s work is grounded in our connection to an increasingly vulnerable natural world. And Mehlis explores the experience of migration and the transformations that unfurl through displacement. Each artist condenses their insight into artworks that draw us into their point of view.
Daley’s highly graphic illustrations playfully assert our societal objectification of the feminine. Dancing legs, swirling skirts, and flouncy frocks become icons – detached from any persona and made stark in black pastel and charcoal on vellum. Daley mines the landscape of girlhood fixations – tutus and princess dresses – for imagery that tickles our learned notions of womanhood. Stylized and full of movement, these works nod at the lithographs of Daumier and the posters of Chéret. Like the former, these works can read as social criticism, and like the latter, make plain the ubiquitous use of the female form for commercial purposes. Yet these works remain playful – even joyful in their gestural energy. As complicated as our notions of femininity may be, these images remind us of the beauty and grace that we may find and celebrate within them.
Maranda’s work exudes a troubling beauty. Like the smoke-filled sky near a forest fire, these paintings express an awesome oppressiveness that is simultaneously surreal and sumptuous. Her hazy landscapes feel dreamlike – all the more because she often injects them with disorienting elements – broken up fields of metal leaf, or birds that feel oddly out of scale in their environment. Maranda builds up many elements – textured grounds, sophisticated brushwork, and surface glazes – to give her works a density that feels, like the natural world that inspires them, powerful and raw. Deeply aware of anthropogenic devastation of the environment, Maranda creates images that reveal both the beauty and the evolving tragedy of the world we inhabit.
Mehlis’s paintings emerge from her exploration of personal transformation. Sparked in part by her interest in migration – both human and animal - and in part by her childhood memories of festival costumes in Bolivia, the AntroFish and Ornithrope forms have become prominent features in her work. These intriguing hybrid creatures – part human, part fish or bird – serve as visual metaphors for the experience of being steeped in both Bolivian and Canadian culture, yet not entirely of either. Mehlis’s observations about her own transformation have reckoned with such varied factors as language, faith, and geography – all of which have shaped her identity. Mehlis’s fluencies in magical realism and supernatural allegory allow her to present vibrant, compelling representations of the frictions embedded in the evolution of identity, and the extraordinary diversity of resulting individual expressions.
Each artist in Distillates shares an inspired perspective – showing us a unique worldview shaped by external forces.