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Earth, clay and fire

Minds of graduating artists inspired by natural elements

Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) student Mabel Tan poses with her exhibition, Playtime in the Clayground, in the Marion Nicoll Gallery Main Space at ACAD in Calgary on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Tan's gallery explores the human body's relationship with materials, raising the question: how well do we really know our own bodies? (Photo by Quin Hauck/SAIT)

Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) student Mabel Tan poses with her exhibition, Playtime in the Clayground, in the Marion Nicoll Gallery Main Space at ACAD in Calgary on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Tan’s gallery explores the human body’s relationship with materials, raising the question: how well do we really know our own bodies? (Photo by Quin Hauck/SAIT)

ACAD’s Marion Nicoll Gallery (MNG) displays clay and glass earthy pieces of art that come to life, as two artists with common viewpoints share their different styles of expression.

Before they graduate, ACAD students and artists, Ariel Hill and Mabel Tan are getting a chance to share their work.

The MNG is a competitive gallery space, sought by many.

Playtime in the Clayground is an interactive “playground” made solely of clay and pulley systems created by Tan.

“It’s unordinary,” said Tan.

In creating the concept, she looked for inspiration from an apple and the sound of the firm crunch. Surrounding people hear the crunch, but it’s the vibrations of the bite going through one’s bones that the person eating the apple hears, and thinks that it’s much louder than it actually is.

Attempting to understand how Tan got inspired, she reflected on the “small simple things” of a bite into an apple and “moving it to how we can exercise [it by] interacting different body parts.”

This was her second attempt to get her work displayed in the MNG.

Although she was unsuccessful the first time, judges gave her feedback to improve. She said they wanted to be reassured that her art wouldn’t be easily damaged or injure others because of the heavy clay and pulley strength.

“Failure was very necessary,” she said about being turned away for the first time. She then talked about learning how to put the pulley systems together and mount them in galleries on her own. This helped her learn, “how to elevate ‘[the] making [stage]’ to ‘the being stage.’”

Tan shared her wisdom on why selling her art is primary and becoming famous is secondary.

“Do not expect fame and fortune from what you do. The moment you do, it takes the joy away from the making.”

The other artist featured at the MNG, Ariel Hill, began her adventures of art in jewellery making at Selkirk College at the Nelson campus in Kootenay, before going to ACAD.

“Once I started taking glass I fell in love with it. It excited me,” said Hill.

She was always drawn by fire and jewellery making, while melting down metal was only beginning to peek her interest. She soon moved onto glasswork.

“In the first couple months of this year, I had more broken pieces than finished pieces,” said Hill. She said it was something glass workers should accept right off the bat, a lot of broken glass.

Her display in the LRT space (the tunnel passing through into ACAD) shows off her exhibit, Sediment | Sentiment.

This gallery highlights the geological formations of rock that form naturally and the parallels of human existence. Through her solid glasswork, Hill attempts to capture the “essence you get in those spaces.”

“A lot of my inspiration comes from nature and from the land, no matter the medium this is something that is present in my work.”

As her graduation grows near, Hill talked about the unsteady feeling of what the future has in store for her as she leaves ACAD.

“It’s a little bit scary, it’s more of the studio life that is being taken away from you.

“Building your own glass-making studio is quite costly,” said Hill , who is hunting for a studio to work in.

While growing up in northern Ontario, constantly outside around campfires, she developed an inherent respect for the earth.

“It’s very present in my culture,” said Hill, who is a member of Six Nations, specifically the Wikwemikong First Nations.

The importance to Hill when looking at the recreated rocky terrain of glass is that she gives nature the justice it deserves and honours the land properly.

“It’s not just recognizing the beauty in nature, but understanding it as a living being.

“It deserves respect and [to be] honoured.”

Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) student Ariel Hill poses with her exhibition, Sediments, in the Marion Nicoll Gallery Main Mall at ACAD in Calgary on Monday, March 20, 2017. Hills's gallery explores the parallels between geological formations and the human experience in large-scale natural environments. (Photo by Quin Hauck/SAIT)

Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) student Ariel Hill poses with her exhibition, Sediments, in the Marion Nicoll Gallery Main Mall at ACAD in Calgary on Monday, March 20, 2017. Hills’s gallery explores the parallels between geological formations and the human experience in large-scale natural environments. (Photo by Quin Hauck/SAIT)

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