Open Studio Gallery
The Shape of The Middle
This exhibition is a Featured Exhibition for the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.
The Shape of the Middle features work by: Shannon Garden-Smith, Jenine Marsh, Tania Willard, Fan Wu
Emphasizing practices that press, graze, and caress, The Shape of the Middle explores forms of touch that are essential to both printmaking and photography. The exhibition takes its inspiration from Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843) by Anna Atkins, the groundbreaking botanist and first person to publish a book illustrated with photographs. Studying their myriad shapes, Atkins contact-printed dried seaweed directly on cyanotype paper, producing images that both register empirical form while generating something intimate and ghostly in turn.
The artists in The Shape of the Middle employ techniques that resonate alongside Atkins’ cyanotype work. Through her collaborative BUSH Gallery project, Tania Willard’s Sovereign Sunshine series situates photogram printing within Indigenous frameworks: her unfixed images act as deeply-rooted records of gathering on land. Jenine Marsh’s intricate relief sculpture features clay pressings of flowers entwined across the gallery floor; the malleable middle-space between object and surface becoming an amorphous second skin. Shannon Garden-Smith’s work also pushes at the limits of what a print (or a photograph) can mean: swaths of a polyester blanket reveal delicate patterns, mark-making through touch that faces the danger of being wiped away completely. The exhibition will also feature a newly-commissioned text work by poet Fan Wu, exploring the strange sensualities that can emerge when an object grazes a surface.
Shannon Garden-Smith lives and works in Toronto. Her studio practice and writing pursue modalities of unproductiveness in order to imagine ways of doing/making/performing uncoupled from predetermined productivist ends. She received her MFA in studio art from the University of Guelph in 2017 and her BA from the University of Toronto in 2012. She has recently exhibited at Birch Contemporary (Toronto), Erin Stump Projects (Toronto), 8-11 Gallery (Toronto), Y+ Contemporary (Scarborough), Kunstverein am-Rosa-Luxembourg-Platz (Berlin).
Jenine Marsh (b. 1984) is an artist based in Toronto. She has exhibited her work in venues including COOPER COLE, Toronto; Lulu, Mexico City; Gianni Manhattan, Vienna; Vie d’ange, Montreal; Entrée, Bergen; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; ASHES/ASHES, Los Angeles; Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles; CK2, New York; and 8-11, Toronto. She has participated in residencies at the Banff Centre (CA) and Rupert (LT).
Tania Willard, Secwepemc Nation, works within shifting ideas of the contemporary and the traditional as they relate to art and cultural production. Working with bodies of knowledge and skills that intersect between Aboriginal and other cultures, Willard’s art/curatorial/life projects include BUSH gallery, a conceptual space for land based art and action led by Indigenous artists.
Fan Wu is always trying to catapult his mind away from his persistently mildly ailing body–but the lumbering body never fails to catch up. He holds an M.A. in Comparative Literature and an M.A. in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto. His academic research explores the contradictions of friendship, madness, and the neutral. Perched as he is between love for the University and frustration at its limitations, he hosts Close Workshops, a series of intimate critical reading & creative writing workshops based out of art galleries in Toronto; past themes include translation, poetry, masochism, and mourning. He is the poetry editor at Impulse [b:] publishing, where he publishes the Decoys series, anthologies of free translations. His poetry & lyric criticism has been published in MICE Magazine, Prefix Photo, 4 Poets, C Magazine, Carousel, and Arc Magazine.
Daniella Sanader is a writer, curator, and arts worker living in Toronto. She has curated projects for Vtape and Oakville Galleries and has written texts for numerous publications and galleries across Canada.