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Let’s talk about RDC art

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a provoking pair of romantic couples can be seen at the Conversations With the Collection art show at the Red Deer College library.

In Diane Arbus’s striking 1963 photograph, pulled from the RDC permanent art collection, a boyfriend and girlfriend stand side by side on Hudson Street in New York City. The pair are wearing adult clothing while their faces appear completely child-like.

The lack of scale in the photo is disorienting. Could they be little people, youthful teens, or children posing as grown-ups?

In Jason Frizzell’s accompanying Our Lady of the Muck and her Gentleman Caller, a pregnant ceramic bride with a wrapped face is holding hands with a groom with goat’s ears and a sack over his head. A red tube runs from the bride’s naked, exposed belly to where the groom’s mouth should be.

Is he consuming her, controlling her, or what exactly is Frizzell implying about their connection?

The many questions raised by the two artworks — one a historic photograph, the other a kitsch ceramic knick-knack purchased secondhand and remodelled with polymer clay by Frizzell — are no coincidence.

Curator Robin Lambert, said Frizzell — who is one of 11 Red Deer College faculty and staff with works in the show — was directly inspired by Arbus’s photo, in which “something looks a little off,” to create Our Lady.

All of the faculty from the college’s Visual Arts Department show were asked to choose a piece from the college’s extensive collection of 800 artworks that best corresponds to their own artwork that’s being displayed. The relationship could be historic, thematic or personal.

In some cases, the connections are obvious — including between RDC instructor Ian Cook’s Bridge Span brass sculpture and U.S. sculptor Michael Steiner’s bronze, Kikais. Both abstract works are sleek, squat in shape, and constructed of metal slabs.

Lambert’s small-scale porcelain works-in-progress, Prototypes for a New Trojan Horse, share some whimsical aspects with Montreal-based artist Catherine Widgery’s playful small bronze pieces, Walking House and Smokestack on Wheels.

But other pairings have more obscure links.

RDC staffer Daniel Anhorn has displayed his Toid, a round organic sculpture made of foam, with miniature pipe-cleaner trees and depicted rocks and shrubs that look as if a piece of wilderness was scooped out with a melon baller, said Lambert.

The corresponding tongue-in-cheek work of Canadiana from the college’s collection is the print The End is Near by Calgarian John Will. It features a disgruntled-looking mounted police officer and a dejected, hairless moose. Lambert said the work was created shortly after the The Disney Corporation bought the rights to the Mountie image and a tick was discovered to cause balding in moose.

RDC instructor Tanya Zuzak-Collard has exhibited four minimalist line drawings, #1, 3, 7 and 9, that initially appear random but together form a circular shape.

She paired her drawings with an untitled photograph by Harry Palmer, of Calgary, showing a shack with plastic bags drying on a clothes line. Zuzak felt that, like Palmer, she is inspired “by the beauty of the mundane.”

Conversations with the Collection also contains works by RDC faculty and staff Avery Andrykew, Marnie Blair, Michael Flaherty, Trudy Golley. David More and James Trevelyan ­— as well as corresponding pieces chosen from the RDC collection.

Lambert hopes that members of the public and students will see the show and realize the college’s visual art instructors and technical staff are “putting their money where their mouth is,” and are continuing to create their own personal works.

He also hopes viewers will discover some of the many artistic treasures that are housed in the RDC permanent art collection. The exhibit runs to March 8.



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