With Grandmother Marian Davis. Mothers: Marika Jemma, Iris Kiewiet, Marcia Lea.Children: Skye Bradie, Sadie Jemma Rivier, Sylke Robertson
RIA Artist Project Room, March 29 – April 4 2015
Special event: Reading Out Loud: Saturday, April 4, 2 – 3.30 PM, RIA Artist Project Room. We read a text by Petra Halkes from the just published catalogue for the exhibition at L.A. Pai Gallery : Anna Torma: Tangled, with Past Tales, March 19 to April 10 2015
The second exhibition in RIA’s series Growing Up Human, came together in collaboration with L.A. Pai Gallery. Drawn Together: Anna Torma and Company, features work by local artists and their children: Marika Jemma and Sadie Jemma Rivier, Iris Kiewiet and Sylke Robertson, Marcia Lea and her mother Marian Davis, daughter Skye Bradie. Their drawings, paintings and photographs were gathered in the RIA Artist Project Room around two works by AnnaTorma.
You may remember Torma’s exquisite exhibition at Karsh Masson last summer. She is an artist from Baie Verte, New Brunswick, who is well-known for her large-scale embroidered wall hangings. A panorama shot of the exhibition on Karsh Masson’s website will refresh your memory.
Torma is represented by L.A.Pai Gallery, 13 Murray St. Ottawa, where she is exhibiting her latest work: Tangled, with Past Tales. The L.A. Pai exhibition opens Thursday, March 19 from 5 – 7 PM, and closes April 10. Lisa Pai has published a catalog for the occasion, with a text by Petra Halkes.
Torma generously agreed to send two extra works to Ottawa to be exhibited at RIA, works that provide an insight into the connection between the thinking and drawing of young children, and her own attunement to the fundamental inter-connectedness of a world that is continuously changing. “In my family, drawing was always present,” says Torma. “I observed how my children used their drawing skills to communicate from an early age. I found it quite poetic, how they used a mix of dragons and imaginary creatures, texts and schoolwork, to work through their negative emotions and make sense of the world.”(American Craft Magazine, 11/18/2013)
Looking at the world through the eyes of a child, as Torma does in the works at RIA, shows a re-imagining of the world, in which the line between the “I” and the rest of the world is not easily drawn. As I wrote in the L.A.Pai catalog, the works that were influenced by her children’s drawings show “tentative shapes of things that slide this way and that, here into incomprehensible abstraction, there into elaborate figures, present[ing] the emerging world of the child. It is a way of being that can be read into all of Torma’s work as a guiding attitude to give shape to her life. Words and images, all sorts of stories, imaginary creatures and everyday objects appear in childhood as they do in Torma’s artworks, uncategorized and unexplained, but to be given places and connections in the child’s learning mind, and, in Torma’s work, in an endless, obsessive labour of love. “
Children teach us that creating meaning and giving form is an open-ended process that springs from not-knowing, from wonder. In Drawn Together: Anna Torma and Company, a child’s curiosity towards all things great and small is regarded as an important aspect of Growing up Human. The child’s position is a humble one, but well worth considering when coming to terms with a changed world in which advancements in science, technology and philosophical thinking have made it impossible to continue privileging the human race as a singular, independent species. Homo Sapiens is one species among countless others, whose needs and wants can be considered only in relation to the life-world. Children’s drawings, in which bunnies and ants can loom as large as cars or heroes, the moon or a grain of sand, topple our established hierarchies and loosen our inflexible perceptions and thoughts.
Drawn Together, then, feeds into RIA’s continuing theme of Growing up Human by showing art that is sensitive to the momentous changes in European-based thought of humans’ autonomy. To emphasize the theme’s continuity, one work from Bring Your Own Art, the first exhibition of the series, which was shown at RIA last January, will be displayed in the different context of a consecutive show. In Drawn Together, Iris Kiewiet and her daughter Sylke Robertson’s series of drawings: The Creation of the Species, makes a re-appearance.
Here, as in Torma’s embroideries, shapes shift meaning, thumbprints become like biological cells, bodies move, merge and flow. Kiewiet draws her daughter, Sylke, who draws along with her. In her family, as in Torma’s, as well as in Jemma’s and Lea’s, art plays a central role in learning about the world: not just as a way to transfer skills from adults to children, but, perhaps more importantly, for adults to learn from children’s creativity that the world can be re-imagined when we approach it without preconceptions, like a child.
Anna Torma was born in Tarnaors, Hungary and graduated with a degree in Textile Art and Design from the Hungarian University of Applied Arts, Budapest, Hungary in 1979. She has been an exhibiting artist since that time; producing mainly large-scale hand embroidered wall hangings and collages. She has exhibited her work internationally and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for High Achievement in Visual Arts.
Marika Jemma has been a visual artist in professional practice for more than 20 years, beginning with her first solo show, Journey to the Temple (Victoria, B.C.), in 1991. She has had a studio with the EBA since 1998 and works primarily in the media of sculptural installation and video, combining natural and manufactured objects to create social/cultural statements.
Marcia Lea is an artist, curator and art educator. In addition to her MFA (Ottawa University 2010) Lea holds a Bachelor of Education specializing in Visual Arts. Her paintings have been exhibited in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Since 1988, Lea has been teaching art with such organizations as the Ottawa School of Art, the Ottawa School Board, and the University of Ottawa. She is the founder and director of the Davis Art School in Ottawa.
Iris Kiewiet, originally from The Netherlands, now living in Wakefield, Quebec, has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Canada and in The Netherlands. Trained as an illustrator, with a BFA in illustration from the Arts Academy Minerva in Groningen, she drew for editorials in the Dutch national newspaper, NRC Handelsblad.
Petra Halkes, PhD, is an artist, independent curator and art critic. She has written many catalogue essays and reviews for art magazines. In 2006 she initiated RIA (Research in Art) with her husband René Price. Based in their home in Ottawa, RIA hosts artists’ projects and Salons, promoting reading and discussions on contemporary art.