Tag Archives: art installation

All Canadian art…..Aganetha Dyck

There has been a long tradition of artists employing assistants.  Georgia O’Keeffe, for example, was blind (macular degeneration) at the end of her life.  Her assistant helped prepare and paint the canvasses according to her direction.  El Anatsui, (see the post from March 27), employs large teams of people to fabricate his hangings.  It is a common practise in the art world.

Aganetha Dyck also has a large swarm of assistants.  She uses bees to help her create her art.

Click here for a brief, informative video about the genesis of her idea to work with bees, and images from an installation of a show in the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Here is an interview with Ms Dyck, and the link provides more very good images of her work.

Installation at Confederation Centre of the Arts, 2011

Installation at Confederation Centre of the Arts, 2011

I love that Ms Dyck commissioned Di Brandt to write a poem for her installation Working in the Dark, at the DeLeon White Gallery in Toronto in 1999.  Art and poetry: a perfect match.  The poem was translated into braille, and the sheets of paper were introduced into bee hives.  Most of the bees’ work was done in the dark, and the work was checked only shortly before the show.  Juan Antonio Ramirez wrote  Aganetha Dyck: Nature as Language in which he discusses her work, and its meanings.

While I was working at Martha Street Studio, an edition of intaglio prints was produced, which were then ‘finished’ by the bees.  Each print of the edition was unique, and all of them are beautiful.

After Dr. Edmund Assumus 1865 by Aganetha Dyck

After Dr. Edmund Asmus 1865 by Aganetha Dyck

Aganetha Dyck received the Governor General’s Medal for Visual and Media Arts in 2007. She and Daphne are in good company.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York

You’ve got to love a church that has a Poet in Residence, (currently Marilyn Nelson)  and lists Judy Collins as one of their artists/musicians in residence.  Never mind that it is a beautiful space, with a lovely communion service, and an socially active community……now there is also a stunning art installation by Xu Bing on display for all to enjoy.

At least this time I was (somewhat) prepared, having checked the Cathedral of St. John the Divine website for service times. (Yes!  The Art Caravan has been on the move.)

Unlike Anne Patterson’s installation for Grace Cathedral, (see previous posting), this artwork is not site specific, and wasn’t originally intended as a cathedral installation.  Xu Bing, a contemporary Chinese artist, had been commissioned to create artwork for the World Trade Centre under construction in Beijing in 2008.

He decided that the glass atrium between the building’s two towers would be the perfect setting for two phoenixes, the male Feng and the female Huang.  The phoenix is an important symbol of unity and peace in Chinese mythology.

Xu Bing chose to construct the birds from the detritus of the construction site.  How apt for a phoenix?

Construction was delayed, in large part due to the demands of the Beijing Olympic Games, and then the financial challenges of the times.  The builders became more cautious, and censorious.  They demanded that he cover the structures–all 12 tons–in crystals, as they appeared ‘unfinished.’  When Xu Bing refused, all money and support for the project was withdrawn.

Fortunately, the art collector Barry Lam, acquired the work.  It was shown briefly in China, and at MASS MoCA last year.   The work is beautiful, and graceful. The vast nave of the cathedral is a perfect setting for these ‘birds.’

Phoenix by Xu Bing

Phoenix by Xu Bing


Phoenix by Xu Bing

Phoenix by Xu Bing

Phoenix by Xu Bing

Phoenix by Xu Bing

From Alcatraz to Grace Cathedral….agony to ecstasy

I think I gasped  when we entered San Francisco’s  Grace Cathedral for a Sunday morning service.  I was expecting to enjoy ‘regular’ cathedral grandeur;  I didn’t know about the art installation.

Can you think of a better place to exclaim “OMG?”

There are nearly 20 miles (miles!) of ribbon suspended in the cathedral.  The artist, Anne Patterson, worked with the congregation to create this art work.  Some of the ribbons have prayers written on them.  Movement and heat from the congregation cause the ribbons to sway and shimmer.  I love how the idea of the spirit (in Latin, spiritus, the breath) is evident in this work.

The colours of the ribbons reflect the colours in the stained glass.  Those windows are worth a trip (and a couple of hours) alone!  And I haven’t even mentioned the sculptures. The church does have docents available, who are more than happy to talk about the art work in the cathedral.

Anne Patterson was the church’s Artist in Residence for 2013.  Because the installation is so popular with the congregation and visitors to the church, its showing has been extended to the end of 2014.

So now you HAVE to go to San Francisco.  There are worse things on your ‘To Do’ list, right?!

Paradise Lost


Paradise Lost at Slide Room Gallery

Paradise Lost at Slide Room Gallery


I was very happy that I stopped by the Vancouver Island School of Art a couple of weeks ago to see the art installation, Paradise Lost, by Xane St. Philip.

Xane’s installation completely transformed the gallery.  (If you haven’t been there, imagine an old school –and I do mean old school— building’s basement, dark and dingy, albeit with a few windows and doors….not the most aesthetically pleasing, or comfortable space.)

The space itself became a work of art.  Xane gave an artist’s talk, and explained some of the features of Paradise Lost.  He talked about colour theory, as espoused by Josef Albers.  He touched on the components of a classical garden, and he elicited participants’ responses to the title of the installation, Paradise Lost.

Just as the beauty of a garden is transitory, Paradise Lost has come and gone from the Slide Room Gallery at VISA.  I look forward to the catalogue, and I’ll never again look at that gallery space in quite the same way.