236 Pender St East,
02 March–29 April 2023
T. +1 604.683.7395
07 April–28 April, 2018
Curated by: Laurie White
We Built a House Out of the Things We Had Gathered
Maggie Groat, Joar Nango, Leya Tess
Artist Talk: Leya Tess in conversation with Laurie White, Saturday, April 7, 2:00 PM
We Built a House Out of the Things We Had Gathered brings together works by three artists who each utilize methods of assemblage to critically examine and participate in diverse ecologies. By conceptualizing ecology as open ended assemblages of materials and organisms, artists Maggie Groat, Joar Nango and Leya Tess consider the flows of materials in a globalised economy while paying close attention to local contexts and their interactions.
Exposing the raw edges of capitalist production, Joar Nango’s project European Everything reveals landscapes of accumulated waste products and the peripheral communities who scratch a living from them. A short film documents a journey through these strange environments while a collection of photographs and small objects gathered along the way examines the resourceful bricolage and sustainable knowledges of the people who respond to these harsh circumstances.
Maggie Groat’s sculptural assemblages transform salvaged materials from daily life into tools for connection with place and speculation for possible futures. Utilitarian artefacts, such as a set of mirrors to reflect light back to the moon, index the artist’s poetic gestures that seek to cultivate alternative ways-of-knowing while entering into relationships with more-than-human entities.
Meticulous drawings by Leya Tess subvert settler-colonial maps of the British Columbia coastline by repopulating the terrain with the plant and animal assemblages that define this region. Tess’s organic forms variously erase and highlight certain features of the maps in correlation with her lived experiences of these areas and the local ecosystems.
Together these works use appropriation and salvage as the means to strategically foreground acts of collection and arrangement, responding to contemporary environmental problems with creativity and resilience. The theme of nomadic exploration runs through this exhibition as a subtext, linking the meditative journey of European Everything to Tess’s maps and Groat’s visions of post-industrial futures. The figure of the resourceful bricoleur combines with that of the time-traveller, seeking messages from the deep past to guide her through uncertain times to come.
This exhibition was organized with support from the Killy Foundation and the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at The University of British Columbia.
The Or Gallery acknowledges its presence on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories.
Image: Leya Tess, In the Calm, In the Surge / Somewhere Between Paradise and Desolation
Maggie Groat is a visual artist who utilizes a range of media, including works on paper, sculpture, textiles, site-specific interventions and publications. Influenced by her Haudenosaunee and settler ancestry, and her roles as mother and environmental steward, her research surrounds site-responsiveness with regards to shifting territories, decolonial methodologies, and salvage practices. Groat earned an MFA degree from the University of Guelph in 2010. In 2014 she was the Audain Artist Scholar in Residence at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Groat has exhibited extensively across Canada including at Mercer Union, YYZ Artists’ Outlet, Art Gallery of York University (Toronto), Western Front, (Vancouver), and Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (Kitchener, ON). She lives and works in St. Catharines, ON.
Joar Nango is a Norwegian-Sámi artist and architect based in Tromsø, Norway. He holds a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Located at the boundary between architecture, design and art, Nango’s practice explores Indigenous identity through the oppositions and contradictions in contemporary architecture. In 2010 Nango co-founded the architectural collective FFB, specializing in temporary structures and interventions in urban contexts. He has exhibited in Canada at Western Front (Vancouver) and Gallery 44 (Toronto), as well as internationally, including documenta 14 (Athens and Kassel, 2017); 43SNA, Medellin (Colombia, 2013); and the Norwegian Sculpture Biennale at Vigelandsmuseet (Oslo, Norway, 2013).
Leya Tess has lived on various islands on the BC coast, working as a kayak guide and illustrator. She holds a BFA from the University of Victoria and has exhibited at the fifty fifty arts collective (Victoria), the Ministry of Casual Living (Victoria), and the James Black Gallery (Vancouver). In 2015 Tess participated in the Listhús Artist Residency, Ólafsfjörður, Iceland. She is currently studying coastal ecology in Prince Rupert.
Laurie White is a writer and art historian, and currently a master’s candidate in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the University of British Columbia. She earned a BA in Art History and Visual Studies from the University of Victoria in 2015. She has curated exhibitions at the fifty fifty arts collective (Victoria), Western Gallery (Bellingham, WA) and AHVA Gallery (Vancouver).