FINE ARTS GRADUATING STUDENT’S
March 31st to April 17, 2021
Intuition is the common denominator in the creative processes of this graduating cohort, a myriad of emerging artists whose achievements constitute the 23rd Bishop’s University Fine Arts Graduating Student Exhibition. Intuition attests to this perseverance, this seeking to materialize ideas that at first may seem abstruse, difficult to convey. In the context of this exhibition, it becomes both instigator and faithful guardian of the will to stick to one’s convictions, come what may. The culmination of these young artist’s efforts is presented to the public on-site at the Foreman Art Gallery as well as in the form of a virtual exhibition.
What, for a fine arts graduate, could be more complex and difficult than attempting to define their practice? Equally challenging are any attempts to pinpoint the genesis of a work, objectively justify a set of choices, account for an epiphany. Learning to concretize a thought or materialize a feeling within the bounds imposed by words and matter is, in effect, a process of self-knowledge.
Such were the dilemmas facing the emerging artists whose work you see here, when called upon to articulate their approach. Since, as writer Maurice Maeterlinck has noted, putting something into words somehow serves only to devalue it. The Nobel laureate for literature goes on to illustrate this paradox strikingly: “[w]e think we have plunged into the depths of the abyss . . . . delude ourselves that we have discovered a wonderful treasure trove, and when we return to the light of day, we find that we have brought back only false stones and shards of glass; and yet the treasure goes on glimmering in the dark, unaltered.”1
Maeterlinck’s “treasure” is a fitting allegory of creative intuition. Working quietly in the background of awareness, intuition gives rise to ideas, solutions and strategies that take shape beyond the beacon of conscious reasoning. Yet attempting to externalize this decision-making process through verbalization is to deprive intuition of its very essence, which is to say, its instinctual nature. Communication, which necessarily calls for the rationalization of thought, thus strips intuition of its conviction. Indeed, giving free rein to one’s intuition is the ultimate leap of faith, a laisser-aller that entails embracing the unknown and going against convention, even against the demands of reason.
Intuition is the common denominator in the creative processes of this graduating cohort, a myriad of emerging artists whose achievements constitute the 23rd Bishop’s University Fine Arts Graduating Student Exhibition. Beyond the subtle-but-unmistakable influence of intuition on each individual practice, the works also attest to the knowledge instilled by the group’s professors. Numerous strands entwine in these practices born of countless hours in the studio spent honing a personal visual language and experimenting with different mediums. The show’s thematic heterogeneity and diversity of plastic approaches point up the individuality of its seven participants, highlighting the variations in the pathways down which their creative intuition has led them.
An amalgam of ideas and inventiveness blended with curiosity and a vision of what might be, intuition can serve as a powerful motor of metaphor within the act of creation. Free from prejudice and often radically non-conformist, it can also turn certainties on their head. Intuition has played a key role in the growth of these artists, encouraging them to take a fresh look at hitherto ruled-out perspectives and practices. Like Maeterlinck’s treasure, it also holds out glimmers of the unexplored potential of thresholds they haven’t yet dared cross. The phenomenon manifests differently in everyone, but in all cases underlies the same inner prompting — the urge that makes someone stop on the side of the road to retrieve what others have seen fit to throw away; photograph an otherwise nondescript blemish on a vehicle; take an interest in the everydayness of everyday life and people; combine wildly disparate materials; or see a symphony in an arrangement of incongruous hues.
Intuition attests to this perseverance, this seeking to materialize ideas that at first may seem abstruse, difficult to convey. Developing an artistic project is a process rife with uncertainty that, together with other key factors, subjects the nascent idea to innumerable shifts. Intuition is both instigator and faithful guardian of the will to stick to one’s convictions, come what may. As such, it is deeply embedded in these works by Allister Aitken, Chantal Lafond, Francine Ethier, Lara Dion, Lily Rousseau, Nicholas Gibbs and Steve Breton, the genetic marker that reveals the unique identity of each through their art.
Amélia Poirier, student curator
1. Maurice Maeterlinck, Le Trésor des humbles (1896), trans. Shaun Whiteside (2001)
Consult the exhibition booklet online
View the presentation of the exhibition and its setup
Get a glimpse of Second Sight
the ArtLab’s POP-UP exhibition
Originally from Cornwall, Ontario, Allister Aitken came to Bishop’s with a passion to pursue a double bachelor’s in Secondary Education and Fine Arts along with a minor in teaching French as a second language.
Although employing several mediums during his studies, he particularly enjoys using acrylic and watercolour paints and uses landscapes or popular culture as main sources of inspiration for his works. Not only will his graduation piece bring together both of these themes, but will also celebrate a milestone in his career as an artist.
Allister Aitken’s art practice consistently conflates landscape with popular culture representation in video games and comic books. Aitken recognizes that natural life and habitats are constantly changing and that each component within nature is singular; it tells its own story of how it has grown and suffered through its environment. This naturalistic reality is reflected in his work with capturing intricate details.
His fascination with video games harkens back to his youth, where he enjoyed submerging himself in these elaborated and dream-like worlds with remarkably designed characters.
Aitken also appreciates how they not only prove to be a form of entertainment, but an engaging experience that allows him to realize the artistic value that constructs these games. His heavy appreciation also translates into his love for comic books, which carry similar values to that of video games, but present more comprehensible illustrations with vivid colour schemes and dynamic techniques that immortalize various forms of action.
His exposure at a young age to the vibrant works of Jackson Pollock and Vincent van Gogh also helped him understand how colour and brushwork techniques can be utilized to create greater movement in his artwork. It also oriented him towards mediums which he enjoys analyzing. These are all factors that contributed to his development as an artist and forged his practice over time.
Sometimes you see a person that stands out from everyone else for some reason. They’re so striking that you’re compelled to recreate them, at least Chantal Lafond is.
Inspired by people in her life and by her favorite TV characters, Chantal creates figurative art that investigates beauty and individuality. Recently, she has been focusing on women in particular, and how they’re perceived by society. Her favorite mediums to work with are painting and drawing, although lately she has been investigating embroidery and textile art, which are often seen as a “women’s craft”.
Chantal Lafond draws inspiration from magazines, books, and personal experiences to create figurative paintings that examine the psychology of her subjects. Recently, she has been exploring mixed media in combining acrylic paint, drawings, and embroidery.
She uses expressive techniques such as dripping acrylic washes, bright colour combinations and bold brush strokes, on both primed and unprimed canvas. Lafond then graphically hand embroiders the surface of her works, emphasizing the inner features and moods of her subjects. Her aim is to create paintings which capture the essence of an individual in a frozen moment of time.
Frankie (Francine Ethier) is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with honours at Bishop’s University. She has received scholarships from O.H. De Sevigne Scholarship in the Creative and Performing Arts for excellence and was selected as a member of Bishop’s Honours Society for 2019–2020.
Her body of work consists of 2D and 3D works in various materials and have been selected for group exhibitions in the following galleries: Art Mur in Montreal in summer 2020; Le Tremplin in Lennoxville; Ye Olde Blacksmith in Stanstead Quebec in 2019; and mp trésart Gallery in South-Durham, Quebec in 2018. She has also participated in many exhibitions in the Montreal region. Through her sculptures and fiber art, she tells stories of entanglement between body and mind.
Francine Ethier‘s artistic focus is to give a second life to materials and found objects that would otherwise be discarded and end up in our landfills. Her inspiration starts from a single element that attracts her attention. She then searches, and handpicks various items for their unique colours, shapes, volume, or textures. Frankie’s distinctive designs intends to offer the viewer a joyful, elegant, intricate, and refined vibe.
She constructs sculptural form with the intent of creating anew what is often considered useless, and unwanted. Frankie’s avid belief in upcycling is a modus operandi she learned from her mother’s long-time creative practice. With her transformative technique, Frankie hopes to inspire others to do the same. To look for the hidden jewels of those too easily discarded items and bring new structures to existence. She thus restores value to the residual after effect of consumption.
Her passion for the arts is deeply rooted in the need to understand and visualize the world around her. Drawing inspiration from the urban space, her paintings examine the construction and representation of identity. Her large scale works interact with a number of different mediums, creating dynamic and textured compositions.
She manipulates form in order to represent contrasting elements that make up a person, such as patterns and routines versus spontaneity and chaos, actively engaging in the duality that is generated in order to create a dynamic composition. Her large-scale paintings emphasize spatial awareness, both subjectively and objectively, through techniques of layering and displacement.
Dion’s multimedia paintings embody the versatile nature of the individual under the lens of the urban space.
Lily Rousseau is a fourth year Fine Arts Major and Art History Honors student at BU. Having lived in France and the United States, she has had to adapt to different cultures and face new challenges, which she explores in some of her work.
Through her studies in History, she is often influenced by traditional painting techniques and traditional subject matter. She intends to pursue a certificate in art restoration and a master’s in Art History in Italy next year.
Lily Rousseau’s artistic process seeks to reveal existentialist thoughts using diverse media such as painting and sculpture, and accounts for her personal understanding of the abstract concepts of time and place. Through her art, Rousseau expresses her self-growth, which is inextricably tinted by her experiences of displacement and adaption to different cultures.
Rousseau’s main focus is to incorporate natural elements, mainly flowers and human bodies, into her compositions as symbols of her experiences of displacement. An expressionist influence can be sensed in her use of bright colours as a means to depict forceful emotions. Through this technique, she visually renders the space she currently finds herself in. Her latest painting manifests an increased inclination towards creating a sense of dynamism in her work.
As an artist, he practices drawing, sculpting, and painting using his personal photographs as a reference. His favorite subjects are people and natural landscapes. He looks forward to taking part in the 2021 Foreman Art Gallery Art Show. Upon graduation, He plans on becoming an art teacher, where he intends to share his passion for art, the creative process and how to properly succeed in the topic of art.
Gibbs’ artworks often tie in his knowledge of art history as he explores different techniques and art movements (such as the photographs of Diane Arbus, Man Ray and Walker Evans among others), while also taking into account the historical representation and importance of the camera obscura and the invention of photography. His photographs probe the world around us, documenting landscapes, portraits, and events.
Steve’s works have been exhibited since 2000 in Quebec, Montreal, Ontario, on the Web, at the University of Sherbrooke, Ye Old Blacksmith (Stanstead 2019) and at his current university’s Open House exhibitions.
Steve Breton believes that by fostering unexpected pictorial combinations, a single image can reveal new readings when rearranged as such. To enrich the vividness and deepen the study of this visual endeavour, Steve uses large format prints that help him channel the contemplative instance, promoting a solemn gaze as a means of activating consciousness and open-mindedness. The reconfiguration of the initial state of an image takes form, in his work, through a curious exploration of diverse approaches and a wide range of interests, mainly oriented towards representing inter-dimensional realities. By doing so, Breton seeks to leave the viewer with the impression of looking at a new phenomenon.