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Notes from the Mess Drawer
Group Exhibition with Sarah Desmarais and Andrew Fraser
Cohen Commons, London, ON
September 12 - 26, 2019

Press Text:

The home is a sacred environment; an entity which is filled over time with imprints of existence. Each one is unique, encompassing the traditions and memories which make it valuable to each generation who lives there. The home holds energies that shape individuals and oppress them; it tells tales of long-lingering magic and superstition that linger through time. Notes from The Mess Drawer is an exploration of the magical and supernatural aspects of the home and the domestic, and how these connect with liberating and oppressive forces. The audience is invited to uncover the secrets hidden within the metaphysical mess drawer – the eclectic accumulation of a home.

Andrew Fraser’s work employs wearable soft sculptures and performances to unpack what it means to be embodied. Drawing inspiration from mythology and queer aesthetics, as well as such artists as Kiki Smith and Allyson Mitchell, Fraser explores how the body acts as the keystone to how we navigate the world, and in turn, how the world informs the construction of our sense of self.

Reilly Knowles’ practice considers his body’s relationship with its environment and its enmeshment with natural forces using a language of mythology, folklore, spiritual symbolism and religious iconography. Drawing particularly from early Irish medieval art, Knowles’ work interprets nature as a troubling and malleable in-between space where gendered, sexual, political and spiritual realities are expressed. 

Sarah Desmarais’ works are an exploration of the many tropes of fantasy adopted from a love of literature and film. She uses symbolism and the power of storytelling to depict uncanny and whimsical interpretations of the everyday. She also draws inspiration from the unconscious mind to reimagine realities to a friendly and/or twisted perspective.

A Long Way Deep
Group exhibition with Sarah Desmarais and Andrew Fraser
Satellite Project Space, London, ON
September 4 - 14, 2019

Press Text:

Mortality, death, decay, and the messy intricacies that lie between are the subjects of human curiosity and fear. Both material and metaphysical, death is a subject we often struggle to discuss and reconcile with. Through examining the environment’s reincorporation of the material body, unpacking the personal ramifications of mortality upon one’s world view, and unearthing that which has been created as cultural harbingers and guardians of the dead, A Long Way Deep invites the audience to come to the edge of the realm of the living and peer beyond the veil.

Andrew Fraser’s work employs wearable soft sculptures and performances to unpack what it means to be embodied. Drawing inspiration from mythology and queer aesthetics, as well as such artists as Kiki Smith and Allyson Mitchell, Fraser explores how the body acts as the keystone to how we navigate the world, and in turn, how the world informs the construction of our sense of self.

Reilly Knowles’ practice considers his body’s relationship with its environment and its enmeshment with natural forces using a language of mythology, folklore, spiritual symbolism and religious iconography. Drawing particularly from early Irish medieval art, Knowles’ work interprets nature as a troubling and malleable in-between space where gendered, sexual, political and spiritual realities are expressed. 

Sarah Desmarais’ works are an exploration of the many tropes of the fantasy genre adopted from a love of literature and film. She uses symbolism and the power of storytelling to depict uncanny and whimsical interpretations of the everyday. She also draws inspiration from the unconscious mind to reimagine realities to a friendly or twisted perspective.

Ley Lines
Group exhibition with Sarah Desmarais and Andrew Fraser
Good Sport, London, ON
June 14 - July 6, 2019

Press Text:

It’s hard to ignore that magic and the occult have seen a resurgence in pop culture. These topics can rightly be called chic, campy, or absurd, while simultaneously enjoying rich, zig-zagging histories through different cultures and times. This combination of winking play and earnest practice serves as fertile soil for our artistic, personal and political investigations. Each of us draw from ancient and emerging traditions of the unusual to comment on contemporary concerns and experiences.

Andrew Fraser’s work employs wearable soft sculptures and performances to unpack what it means to be embodied. Drawing inspiration from mythology and queer aesthetics, as well as such artists as Kiki Smith and Allyson Mitchell, Fraser explores how the body acts as the keystone to how we navigate the world, and in turn, how the world informs the construction of our sense of self.

Reilly Knowles’ practice considers his body’s relationship with its environment and its enmeshment with natural forces using a language of mythology, folklore, spiritual symbolism and religious iconography. Drawing particularly from European medieval art, Knowles’ work interprets nature as a troubling and malleable in-between space where gendered, sexual, political and spiritual realities are expressed. 

Sarah Desmarais’ practice springs from her life-long passion for fantasy writing and film. Employing cinematic techniques and genre-specific flairs, she uses photography and water-based media to create works inspired by influential tales, as well as her own musings on identity, whimsy, nature and desire. Desmarais draws attention to the magical, uncanny and curious elements of everyday life.

In an age of Instagram spiritualists and drugstore witchcraft kits, our collective aims to elucidate the productive and critical potentialities of digging deep into myth and legend. Ley Lines is a footstep on the paths we are walking, paths on which artistic exploration and the unknown are inextricably intertwined.

In Situ
Solo exhibition
Spencer Gallery, London, ON
April 28 - May 31, 2019

Press Text:

The human body and the natural world are often regarded as discreet entities. Although it is sometimes admitted with notable displeasure that people can give into “wild” impulses, the majority of narratives describe humans overcoming or consuming nature, rather than being part of it. This exhibition considers the relationship of the artist’s body to the environment, both as a site of particular embodied experiences and as an example of a species. The work draws from the artist’s accumulated understanding of the ecosystems of Southern Ontario, natural symbolism, as well as personal iconography to work through where the body and the landscape meet and diverge. Themes that often arise through these explorations include birth and death cycles, environmental degradation and queer embodiment.

The show consists of a collection of oils, acrylics, watercolours and textiles which reflect Knowles’ various physical, emotional and spiritual affiliations with the creatures and natural spaces of Southern Ontario, particularly the town of Milton. Certain works seek to capture the energy of spaces in a more traditional landscape format, while others employ tree, bird and deer imagery to explore gender, sexuality, mental health and unconscious impulses. Together, these works propose that the landscape is both a physical terrain as well as a medium through which symbolic, personal, political and gendered meanings are expressed.

Reilly Knowles is an undergraduate student at Western University pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts with a Studio Specialization and a minor in Women’s Studies. Knowles is a recipient of the 2017 Tony and Betsy Little Scholarship in Visual Arts, the 2016 Western University Faculty of Arts and Humanities Entrance Scholarship of Excellence and the Western University Four Year Continuing Admission Scholarship. Knowles has exhibited at Holcim Gallery (Milton, ON), TAP Centre for Creativity (London, ON), Artlab Gallery (London, ON) and FASM at the Mall Gallery (Milton, ON), among many other venues.

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