A curator and writer based in San Francisco, where she is Curator and Head of Programs at the CCA Wattis Institute. Nguyen was formerly Director/Curator of Artspeak from 2011-2016. Her writing has appeared in exhibition catalogues and periodicals nationally and internationally, with recent texts in catalogues published by Pied-à-Terre (San Francisco), Gluck 50/Mousse (Milan), and the Herning Museum of Art (Denmark). Nguyen is the recipient of the 2015 Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Emerging Curators in Contemporary Canadian Art and the 2016 Joan Lowndes Award from the Canada Council for the Arts for excellence in critical and curatorial writing.
Tania Willard, Secwepemc Nation and settler heritage, works within shifting ideas around contemporary and traditional, often with bodies of knowledge and skills that are linked to the intersections between Indigenous and other cultures. Willard’s curatorial work includes Beat Nation: Art Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (2012-2014), co-curated with Kathleen Ritter, Vancouver Art Gallery (touring). Current curatorial contributions include co-curating Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology for the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Sante Fe. In 2016, Willard received the Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art from the Hnatyshyn Foundation, and a City of Vancouver Book Award for the exhibition catalogue Unceded Territories: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Public art projects include Rule of the Trees (Vancouver), and If the Drumming Stops, with Peter Morin, on the lands of the Papaschase First Nation in Edmonton. Willard was recognized with the Shadbolt Foundation VIVA award for outstanding achievement and commitment in 2020. Her ongoing collaborative project BUSH gallery is a conceptual land-based gallery grounded in Indigenous knowledges and relational art practices. Willard is an Assistant Professor at UBCO in Syilx territories (Kelowna); her current research intersects with language learning and land-based art practices.
CAROLINE MONNET, DEVIN TROY STROTHER, LAWRENCE PAUL YUXWELUPTUN
February 8–March 29, 2014
Barn Swallows brings together three artists whose works combine the vocabulary of popular and traditional visual-cultures with the tropes of modernist abstraction to create unique hybrids forms. Each artist uses this strategy for a different purpose, as the basis for formalist exploration, to consider representation’s role in the political tensions of modernity, or to reflect on the power dynamics at play in the portrayal of race and gender in art history and popular culture.
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun’s recent ovoid paintings and sculptures complement his more familiar figurative tableaux of the past thirty years. While the idealized Northwest-Coast formline shapes are freed from their traditional depictive role, the titles nonetheless root these works in the artist’s broader concern with representation, the landscape and First Nations political struggles.
By contrast, Caroline Monnet’s Anomalia collage and silkscreen series approaches abstraction by splicing together found images of urban development, resource extraction and Hollywood depictions of First Nations culture, dissolving the originals into a fragmentary field of overlapping facets. These fields are, in turn, cropped into the shapes of silhouettes of animal and human figures—each image in the series offering a different view on the collision of nature and culture in recent history.
Devin Troy Strother’s high-relief assemblages and paintings centre around caricatures of black figures in sometimes gory, sexualized scenes on top of abstract backgrounds, which poke fun at the pretensions of formalism. Sardonic titles like A Black Joan Jonas in “Nigga I’m a Coyote” highlight the entangled histories of primitivism and abstraction within avant-garde art, asking, in the process, who has the right to use certain kinds of language and certain kinds of history.
On Barn Swallows
March 1, 2014
Artist and curator Tania Willard will deliver a talk in response to Artspeak’s current exhibition Barn Swallows.