July 22nd, 2024

Artist discussion kicks off new SAAG exhibits

By Alexandra Noad - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on July 10, 2024.

The Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG) opened its summer exhibits on Saturday with a panel discussion of the featured artists.
The exhibits feature works from three artists, but all contain the motif of how society navigates the built environments and their impact on emotions.
Amanda Chwelos, an artist from Edmonton, showcases the contradictions, anxieties, and banalities or the decorative through a series of drawings and oil paintings in “Soft Enough to Slip Through.”
Chwelos learned how to be intentional with her environment, which is what inspired her exhibit.
“I think personally I’ve had to be intentional in paying attention to my environment a little bit more which is where I’ve heard a lot of the inspiration for my show,” said Chewlos.
Alex Turgeon moved back to Toronto from Germany. This is his first solo exhibit in a public gallery in Canada and in his works of concrete, poetry, drawings and sculptures explores the gentrification, division and promised unity of urban revitalization in “Waste Land”.
In his experiences of living in a foreign country and then returning to his homeland he has learned how different spaces will shape how you view the world.
“I think that’s also expressed in terms of like walking and looking and paying attention. It’s kind of like learning from learning what it means to be where you’re from,” said Turgeon.
Sung Tieu, an artist from Germany, explores how human emotional and psychological experiences are shaped by state bureucracy and surveilanc through sculpture, video, sound and text in her exhibit “Civic Floor.”
“I was mostly interested in what forms of civilization and how security and risk is being set through design,” said Tieu.
During the panel discussion, the topic of anti-homeless infrastructure was brought up. While people in Southern Alberta may believe it is something only happening here, the artists agreed it is prevalent everywhere.
Chwelos mentioned how in Edmonton fences are being put up and encampments dismantled.
“I guess as an artist, maybe just echoing what I’ve talked about previously, about being intentional about living in my environment, it doesn’t seem to be like as much built space for people to understand, it feels a little individual,” said Chewelos.
In Toronto Turgeon mentions how the city is eliminating green space to promote economic development.
“There’s so much public upheaval or this kind of discontent with some of these, development projects, but, it’s never ending. It’s constantly being pushed forward,” said Turgeon.
Tieu mentioned how objects such as chairs are put together in a way where they can’t cause harm, but the result is something which is uncomfortable.
“On one hand there definitely is ideal protection to protect the human from hurting themselves, but also that this object can’t be used for self harm or harming others, but then, the result of it in the end is an object that is extremely uncomfortable to use and actually quite hostile to a human body,” said Tieu.
Another motif in the exhibits is the various human responses to the structures and barriers of the world.
Chewelos’ exhibit is a reaction to the grid. She wanted to convey the space in between the structures and barriers.
“I hope through the paintings that there’s kind of like soft forms being able to slip through these grids,” said Chewelos.
Turgeon talked about how the grid can be used to organize as well as cause chaos specifically in his architecture background.
“I’m really quite interested in this kind of tension between the organizing principle of the grid of an architecture, but also how that kind of is a form of chaos in some way. I think for some individuals or some experiences, that kind of organizing principle can be chaotic and also how chaos can be like a way of organizing space as well,” said Turgeon.
Turgeon hopes these exhibits promote positive change in how the City of Lethbridge chooses to expand.
“Lethbridge is also a growing city and maybe there’s some opportunities for some of these ideas to be implemented in the early stages. So perhaps these exhibitions, I hope generate some positive development,” said Turgeon.
The exhibits are open until Sept. 28. More information on SAAG or these exhibits can be found at saag.ca.

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