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Phantom Limb:

ACAD grad Shyra de Souza uses found objects (mostly from thrift stores) to create interesting three-dimensional pieces of art.  -Mikaela MacKenzie, THE WEAL

ACAD grad Shyra de Souza uses found objects (mostly from thrift stores) to create interesting three-dimensional pieces of art. -Mikaela MacKenzie, THE WEAL

ACAD sculpture grad, Shyra De Souza, questions today’s obsession with consumerism in her art showcase Phantom Limb, on display in the Okotoks Art Gallery.

“Everything I do is trying to expose something about consumer culture. [I want to] draw attention to the high level of consumerism that we take part in, in this culture,” said De Souza.

“And with Phantom Limb, what I’m alluding to there, is it’s not sustainable. Something has to stop, something has to change.”

De Souza graduated from ACAD in 2006 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, specializing in sculpture.

Sculpture is anything in three-dimensions, such as installation pieces like Phantom Limb where the art is part of an environment the viewer can inhabit.

Phantom Limb is a massive skeleton-like structure made up of various mass-produced objects and trinkets found in thrift stores across Calgary.

De Souza named the piece Phantom Limb, because all the objects we create in this world are a part of us, and though we try to discard them, they are still out there and connected to us like phantom limbs.

Her art piece is intended to cause the viewer to reconsider his or her consumer habits, and create tension in the mind.

“The tension in Phantom Limb comes from the desire to move closer to the piece and see the individual objects in it, but the way I put it together, tends to push the viewer away because its ominous and overpowering,” she said.

“The viewer doesn’t necessarily know that this is happening, but it makes them look at it a little longer [and] they can feel something psychologically happening. That’s where the enjoyment comes from.”

This is not the first time Phantom Limb has been showcased in Alberta, but De Souza continues to receive positive feedback.

“I get a really good response. Even when people have no idea what my perspective is, they are very intrigued.”

De Souza considers her work to be a success when she witnesses people interacting with her work.

“I enjoy the way people engage with the work. I’m always trying to make work that is more engaging, and I think over time I am getting better and better.”

Though De Souza herself has strong opinions about consumerism and tries to reflect that in her art, she does not tell the viewer what to think.

“I buy into the idea that I am not making art, but an experience. And I want the viewer to come to [his or her] own conclusions.”

Phantom Limb is on display at the Okotoks Art Gallery till Nov. 8.

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