John Paul Robinson and Orest Tataryn
Curator: John Paul Robinson
February 17 to March 17, 2007
Text by Andria Hickey
Glass is often relegated to the realm of craft or material arts. As a material it is a romantic, paradoxical and complex. As both subject and object of metaphor its qualities make it a potent medium for contemporary art production. With complicated chemistry and obvious fragility, it is also technically difficult and aesthetically challenging.
In this unique exhibition curator and artist, John Paul Robinson, has grouped together five artists whose works demonstrate the ability of the medium to negotiate important dialogues that span such contemporary social issues as identity and perception, the environment, utopia and fantasy. Showcasing selected works from artists Tyler Rock, Jeffrey Sarmiento, Michèle LaPointe, Orest Tataryn, and Robinson’s own work, Content Driven demonstrates not only the skill of the craft of working in glass but also the relationship between explorations of medium and discourses surrounding the contemporary art object.
Neon artist and member of the guerrilla art group Skunkworks/Outlaw Neon, Orest Tataryn investigates light and shadow as a sculptural and painterly medium attempting to reduce material environments to their simplest form. Michèle LaPoint is best known for her monumental installations and her investigations of integrated site specificity and the “imaginary archaeological process which excavates dreams and time”. Curator and artist John Paul Robinson’s works create and mix symbols to develop connections between physical and the metaphysical, the body and the subconscious. Jeffrey Sarmiento incorporates images and text with glass to communicate new visual narratives of identity and ethnicity that revolve around the artist’s exploration of language and translation. A senior glass blower, Tyler Rock’s work explores the notion of the vessel and its conceptual relationship with luminosity and the sculptural form.
Robinson, one of the first artists in Canada to build his own glass studio, has noted how technological developments in the production of glassworks, in addition to training programs, have allowed artists to master the techniques needed to work in glass. This has subsequently opened the possibilities for contemporary artists to work in glass and traditional glass artists to react and contribute to emerging trajectories in contemporary art practices. With works in the exhibition incorporating glass as lens, sculptural form, intervention and metaphor, this content-driven shift is reflected in the abilities of the artists to use glass as both device and strategy while combining the mythology of the material with its unique attributes in forms that communicate symbolic meaning in unexpected ways.