The artists hard at work.
On April 23rd, Elgin resident Pat Walsh and artist Jennifer Schuler will present Re-Generation, a collaborative art exhibition that has been three years in the making.
On display at Huntingdon’s Alfred-Langevin Cultural Hall, the presentation will be the duo’s first. According to local Walsh, the project has provided the artists with a forum in which to discuss the issues and challenges facing women artists now, issues that have changed somewhat over the years, but still remain entrenched and intractable in many ways today. Both artists have explored materials extensively within their practices, and, within this project, have chosen to explore and exploit the medium of watercolour. Their shared interest in this medium lies in its fluid, versatile and expressive qualities, its sensitivity to the artist’s touch, its responsiveness, and also its unforgiving nature.
On April 30th, the collaborators will present a workshop to the community to discuss the exhibition as well as the motivations that prompted it, while working together on a collaborative art piece.
A teacher at both the HAECC in Huntingdon and at Montreal’s Centre des Arts Visuels, Walsh is well-known within the community, with several of Walsh’s own students having exhibited their work at Huntingdon’s Little Green Library. Walsh, who is a founding member of Montreal’s Powerhouse Gallery (one of Canada’s oldest artist-run centres, now called La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse), has exhibited widely in not only Montreal but in eastern Canada. Graduating with a BFA from Mount Allison University, she completed her MFA in Studio Art at Concordia University, opting for a double major in multimedia and photography.
As for Schuler, she initially proposed the project to Walsh as an excuse to get to know her better. "We are both teachers at the Visual Arts Centre in Montreal and I was intrigued and inspired by the fact she was one of the founders of the artist-run centre that I had so much respect for: La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse. I thought about what an amazing opportunity it would be to do a project together. One thing I thought about was how feminism united us. While most of my colleagues identify with feminism, I rarely find someone who also identifies with feminism as a major part of their practice. I felt that we had a connection with our brief encounters at the Visual Arts Centre, and was curious to see how a collaborative partnership could grow from such a project. I have great, great respect for women of generations before me who have worked and fought so hard in the women’s movements, and to know that I could work with someone from this time was very inspiring and motivating to me."
Walsh agrees. In addition to the feminist roots they share, she was excited to have the opportunity to collaborate “Collaborating is a little like jumping off a cliff – with a safety net. Scary, exhilarating—and my co-collaborator is always there for me. When I begin a painting, make those first marks on the paper, I have no idea what Jennifer will do with it. It is a leap into the unknown. And an exercise in non-attachment: I can’t control what she will do with it! Conversely, when Jennifer hands me a painting that she has begun, I haven’t a clue what to expect. It’s like opening a present, a little mystery. Until I live with Jennifer’s painting for a while, I don’t know how to approach it, where to start. It’s only when I begin to get some kind of feeling, some kind of idea, that I dare to start working on it. I have to be conscious of, and adjust to, the colour, type of brush work, fluidity, etc. in order to either harmonize or contrast with what Jennifer has started. It is an alchemical process: transforming unformed and raw material into a cohesive whole,” explains Walsh.
The exhibition will run until May 14th.
Alfred-Langevin Cultural Hall, 10 King, Huntingdon
Free admission from April 23 to 30th, with workshop on April 30th, 1-3:30 p.m.
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 12-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 p.m.
Weekdays: Wednesday and Thursday, 12 to 4 p.m. or with a reservation
For more information, call 450-264-5411, ext. 226