Art Gallery of Grande Prairie

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TREX Exhibit in the News

Work designed to isolate societal indulgence
By Kirsten Goruk, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune staff

Kim Huynh’s work “hole/whole,” on display now at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie, is designed to make you see the other, less shiny side of a pearl.

Todd Schaber, curator of the exhibit, says Huynh’s art commonly deals with the decline of colonialism and the subsequent rise of globalization.

“This exhibit specifically deals with indulgence,” he says. “It’s about what leads to exploitation of the world’s oceans, of ecosystems, all these things that are becoming more and more fragile.”

The 21 pieces in the exhibit span two walls at the gallery in the Montrose Cultural Centre. There are holes punched in the prints, some have numbers and others have symbols from pieces of Chinese chess. Each lithographic print features pearls in some way.

“The pearl really is a metaphor for those indulgences. It doesn’t stop at the pearl, but it’s a really good metaphor for the excess,” Schaber said.

Despite the global themes to her art, Schaber thinks Huynh’s work will affect visitors on a local level.

“We’re a very resource-oriented community. I think it’s a different type of indulgence, but it draws a good parallel,” he said.

Huynh is a Calgary-based artist and a professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Calgary. Her exhibit is part of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts’ Travelling Exhibition program, which is celebrating its 25th year.

Every year, four regions across the province organize new exhibitions that they then trade among each other for a two-year span.

“It allows art to be sent out to non-traditional venues and to communities where people and children don’t have the opportunity to experience the educational value,” Schaber said.

Part of that education comes from activities such as the hands-on projects run in conjunction with the exhibits. Tanya Freed organizes the gallery’s summer art camps and is overseeing the “hole/whole” activity for students.

“It’s based on the concepts that are explored in the art work,” Freed said. “She explores the ideas of preciousness and rarity; she explores identity and our environmental damage as we try to get precious things.”

The students make a collage out of magazine images of luxury or everyday items. Just as Huynh herself often appears in her work, the students then superimpose a self-portrait over top of the consumer images.

The hands-on activities aren’t the only programs taking place at the gallery this summer.

“They’ve been scaled down this year because of space issues. (Each class has) only eight kids instead of 20,” Freed said, referring to the ongoing construction of the new building.

This year’s theme is “Art Quest.” It focuses on exploring various mediums of art, including everything from sculpture to print-making.

Although Freed says the camps tend to interest a younger demographic, she hopes to see that change when the new gallery opens.

“Next year we’re going to have a classroom when the building is finished. It will be set up to hold 60 students and that will open up what we can do for our camps.”

Until then, Freed wants everyone to know that the gallery is still worth a visit.

“I’m excited and happy that people have been looking towards us even though we’ve been under construction. We’re still here and we’re still going strong.”

Learn more about the exhibition, hole/whole.