Cultivating Connection

Alyssa Alikpala, detail: in between, 2022, wheatpaste and foraged grasses.

Jenn Law, detail: Monster Heart, 2022-23, letterpress printed Monstera clipping rerooting in water-filled mason jar, open edition, dimensions vary.

Jenn Law, detail: Monster Heart, 2022-23, letterpress printed Monstera clipping rerooting in water-filled mason jar, open edition, dimensions vary.

Main Gallery
Cultivating Connection
Alyssa Alikpala, Jenn Law, Noelle Wharton-Ayer
March 3, 2023 – April 15, 2023

This exhibition features three artists whose use of print-based processes is actively intertwined with botanical material. Taking place towards the close of winter and in anticipation of spring, the works in Cultivating Connection engage with communication, unfixed outcomes, and slow viewing.

Jenn Law’s recent explorations with a Line-o-scribe involve the letterpress impression of poetic sentiments into the leaves of wild and domestic plants. This practice finds Law ‘in conversation’ with botanical subjects, entering a relationship of give and take, addition and erasure as each particular plant receives and responds to her intervention in its own way. Some quickly overgrow her words, whereas others visibly preserve the text, or conceal it completely over time. Often, they are replanted or returned to public spaces for others to find. In this exhibition, propagated Monstera clippings carry a ‘living verse’, while an intimate artist book documents a series of ‘askings’ pressed into individual Calathea leaves. By working with these two common houseplants, Law responds to the season while also acknowledging the complex relationship and history of bringing tropical plants indoors.

Alyssa Alikpala, detail: in between, 2022, wheatpaste and foraged grasses.
Alyssa Alikpala, detail: in between, 2022, wheatpaste and foraged grasses.

Noelle Wharton-Ayer uses botanical imagery as a conduit for personal narratives. Her primary practice is collage, gathering source material from different contexts within one image plane using analogue and digital processes. A large-scale digital print on translucent fabric results from collecting natural specimens with her two sons and creating anthotypes – an early form of unfixed image-making using light-sensitive extracts from plants and flowers. In the screenprint series, Des espaliers, rediscovered photographs of past acquaintances are collaged with foliage imagery. Appearing as abundantly overgrown, these plant/human hybrid figures speak to transformation, and connections lost and found.

Alyssa Alikpala’s subtle wheat-pasted works use the material process of print dissemination. Rather than communicating with printed ephemera, she uses seasonal, natural materials collected from nearby sites to create carefully constructed interventions both in interior spaces and urban environments. This flora often acts in relation to the body and inevitably decays and erodes, quietly speaking to change and the passing of time whether in the hush of a gallery space or the bustle of a city street.

Noelle Wharton-Ayer, detail: Des espaliers (Uphill), 2022 cmyk screenprint (iridescent and process inks on Arches 88 rag paper), 1/4, image size: 16” x 22”, paper size: 22” x 28”.

Alyssa Alikpala is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and researcher, working across sound, sculpture, installation, and ephemeral forms. Her practice explores the sensorial body and its relation to material and environment, focusing on the physical process both as a way of generating insight and as a meditative practice. Through environmental interventions, her current body of work invites slowness and sensitivity. Using found and natural materials, the works respond intentionally to the time, place, and conditions, and ultimately accept their impermanence.

Alyssa has recently exhibited in Tkaronto/Toronto at Myta Sayo Gallery, Project 107, and Gallery TPW for Images Festival in partnership with Scotiabank Contact Festival. In the fall, she completed a residency at La Napoule Art Foundation in Mandelieu-la-Napoule, France, where she pushed her material and process-based research on plant fibres and wheat paste.

Jenn Law is an artist, writer, and editor living in Toronto. Working across print, clay, and animation, Law’s practice explores language ecologies, the historical archive/library, literary objects, and processes of material storytelling. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK, a BA in Anthropology from McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, and a BFA from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.

Law has exhibited her work internationally, including exhibitions in Canada, the United States, Australia, Taiwan, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In addition, Law has published widely on contemporary art and print culture and has worked as a lecturer, curator, and editor in Canada, the UK, and South Africa. She is the co-editor of Printopolis, published by Open Studio in 2016. In 2017, Law co-founded the experimental publishing platform Arts + Letters Press and is the co-editor of the journal art + reading.

Jenn Law would like to thank Pudy Tong, Reg Beatty, Tom Blanchard, and Smokestack Studio.

Noelle Wharton-Ayer is a Québec-City based multidisciplinary artist interested in the interaction between exterior botanical spaces and interior psychological and emotional states. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in visual arts from York University and a Master’s degree in visual arts from Université Laval, and worked for several years as a studio manager at the artist-run centre Engramme.

Noelle’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Europe, and she has participated in artist residencies throughout eastern Canada. Notable projects include La Cascade, which was selected for the summer 2022 programming of Cooperative Méduse’s Bay Window exhibition space. In 2022, she was also a Première Ovation grant recipient for her project Bushwork / Dans la brousse. Noelle has worked as a community arts practitioner in Quebec City since 2019, and in the spring of 2023 she will be an artist-in-residence at Jean-De-Brébeuf high school.

The creation of Noelle Wharton-Ayer’s works presented in the exhibition was made possible by a production grant from Première Ovation, a funding body of the City of Québec which supports emerging artists of the region.

Click here to watch a virtual Print Speak session about this exhibition.