June 25 – July 28 – 2016
It is in vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves. There is none such. — Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 30 August 1856
Ursa and Iris, the frolicking dogs in Frances Slaney’s photo cut-outs and the She-Wolves in Anna Williams’ sculptures and drawings of pairing female human/wolf creatures, are engaged in moments that appear fierce, even wild.
Williams’ She-Wolves are joyous, fleshy, sexual, and completely into each other. Intense, wild moments of connection are felt in the drawings’ sharp, fast pencil and charcoal marks. The bronze sculptures preserve the moments; ritualize them through repetition and by drawing them into a long tradition of theriomorphous sculptures.
Slaney’s clusters of two playing, fighting companion animals, Ursa and Iris, can similarly be read as representing wild moments in an effort to hold on to them. The dogs have been freed, deliberately, carefully, respectfully, from their domesticating framework, a framework that has been left on display, showing gaping white absences where the dogs used to be. Two uncut photographs, one showing the dogs’ flashing teeth, the other a protruding tongue, underscore that the dogs’ wildness is completely their own.
What is the wild that the artists appear to pay such close attention to? A far cry from wilderness (vast, untouched Nature “out there”) I’d like to use the word wildness here, with Thoreau, to indicate something that is within us, as it is within the world. Ursa and Iris and the She-wolves show wildness not as distant nature, but as a sensation of untamed, un-nameable life itself, in which I am just as enmeshed as they are.
Continue reading the exhibition essay by Petra Halkes HERE
Frances Slaney has a background in both anthropology and art. She is interested in environmentalism, activism, and inter-species relations, particularly between urban humans and their domestic sheep-dogs. She teaches and writes on Tarahumara ethnography, anthropology of art, material culture and museums, as well as the history of anthropology and anthropological theory, at Carleton University. Meanwhile, working as an artist provides a more hands-on way of thinking, communicating and being in the world. She studied visual arts (studio) at Ottawa U and the University of Saskatchewan’s Kenderdine Campus (Emma Lake).
Anna Williams studied sculpture and printmaking at Mount Allison University. Williams has had solo shows in both Canada and the U.S., and had works purchased by the Canada Council Art Bank, the City of Ottawa, and Humber College as well as numerous national and international private collections. Williams has also created public works in Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal, and is currently completing a large installation piece funded by grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the City of Ottawa. Williams is represented by the L.A.Pai Gallery in Ottawa. Her She-Wolves were also shown previously at Central Art Garage in Ottawa.