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As Perennial As the Grass – Katharine Dennis 2012 – Middlebrook Prize Winner

As Perennial as the Grass

Amalie Atkins, Brian Cauley, Kathryn Ruppert-Dazai, Ellyn Walker
Middlebrook Prize Winner
October 19 – December 14, 2013

Opening Reception: Saturday, October 19, 2013. 2pm – 5pm
Minarovich Gallery, Elora Centre for the Arts

Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
– Desiderata, Max Ehrmann, 1927

Curated by Katherine Dennis

Simple gestures – writing a love letter or anonymous note, embracing someone tenderly, or watering a plant – are poetic affirmations for ways of interacting in and connecting with the world. As Perennial as the Grass shares visual segments from stories about love in the form of textile, video and installation art. The artists of this exhibition, Amalie Atkins, Brian Cauley, Kathryn Ruppert-Dazai and Ellyn Walker, manifest intimate insights into their mindset with actions and images that resist cynical, aloof attitudes too commonly cultivated in contemporary society. These candid artworks demonstrate genuine affection for the self and other.

During the two months leading up to the exhibition (16 August–13 October), Cauley’s Neighbourhood Messages (2012) invites the Elora community to leave inspirational notes that carry their goodwill to strangers. Located in Bissell Park, a typewriter awaits participants who want to adorn the overhanging tree branches with their messages. As the collection of notes grows visitors are invited to read, respond, reflect on or remove the traces left behind by others. An assemblage of notes chosen by the artist will later hang in the gallery as a record of these anonymous exchanges.

In the gallery, the artworks expose relationships among family and strangers, between paramours, and within one’s self. Filmed in Saskatchewan, Atkins’s video Embrace (2011) captures a precious moment of sisterly affection between two elderly Canadian-Austrian twins set against the backdrop of the prairie skies. This cinematic display of a simple, gentle gesture between family members reveals the monumental consequence of life’s otherwise small and quiet moments.

Sharing personal and eccentric insights into their relationship Ruppert-Dazai’s crocheted fragments from messages written by her husband onto large-scale knit canvases in her Love Letter Series, (2008–12). The quirky phrases speak of honesty and openness, not just between the couple but also in their willingness to expose this relationship publicly.  The strangeness and significance of vulnerability continues in Ruppert-Dazai’s Twin White, I love you, La Crainte de la morte et d’autres crainte(2005), which portrays the anxiety and excitement of the first time you are naked in front of a loved one.

In Walker’s #7: Love a garden with all your heart (2013), the simplicity of caring for a garden offers a deeply somber yet pragmatic optimism about the journey to mental health. Visitors to the gallery are encouraged to water the artist’s garden in her absence, helping her care for the plants entrusted to the exhibition. Together these artists explore the intricacies of love, transforming the deeply personal into eclectic and relatable perspectives on this complex and multifaceted emotion.

Opening Reception & Curator’s Talk, Saturday, October 19, 2 to 5pm

Participatory Art Making Workshop with Brian Cauley, Saturday, October 5, 1pm

Art Bus with Art Gallery of Mississauga & Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Saturday, October 26, pick up at AGM at 12:30pm

In Conversation with Kathryn Ruppert-Dazai & Ellyn Walker, Saturday, November 16, 2pm

We would like to sincerely thank the Middlebrook Social Innovation Fund at the Centre Wellington Community Foundation for their support and dedication to contemporary artistic practice.

LINK: The Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators at the Elora Centre for the Arts

WATCH: Interview with Katharine Dennis, 2012 Middlebrook Prize Winner

Middlebrook Prize funding is provided by the Middlebrook Social Innovation Fund at the Centre Wellington Community Foundation.