Seeing the world with new eyes

Photo: Deborah Carruthers

Art does not solve problems but makes us aware of their existence. It opens our eyes to see and our brain to imagine.
Reflections on twins
A recent series by Montreal based artist Deborah Carruthers is an exploration of the connection between revelation and individuality. "As an identical twin, I have always been fascinated by the moment when people saw us as two different people, when they recognized us as separate individuals, despite us looking the same. I wanted to recreate that moment of discovering the individual and demonstrate how it forever changes the way we look at something."

Carruthers has created a series of work using only found natural objects in her immediate environment. For example, Tondo No. 3 uses pine cone seeds but no two are the same. Carruthers chose one element within the piece to be a "twin" removing the original and replacing it with a watercolour representation. The result is mimesis, when an object that has no real existence is produced in such a way that it mimics a real object thereby becoming real.

Once the viewer discovers the "twin" in the piece, they become hyper-aware of its existence and their relationship to the piece is changed. We can't go back to viewing it as we did before -- we can't unknow it. Carruthers combination of the group/individuality experience with the know/unknow dichotomy creates work that is simple and powerful.

Each piece is mounted on hand-made paper created by St-Armand in Montreal from t-shirt remnants.

Capturing ecological time
Chicago artist, Doug Fogelson works primarily in photography. His technique of overlapping exposures in the camera when shooting creates images trapped somewhere between the past and future. Yet movement is created in the unique stasis of the filmstrip. "My art concentrates on relationships with the natural and constructed world. The resulting work utilizes mechanical documentation via photography, video, and sound directed at enhancing an individual's consideration of their role in our collective surroundings." Working on subject matter from various natural and human-built stimuli, Fogelson creates images showing the delicate interplay between humanity and nature, and the tenuous connection between mortality and coexistence in the environment.

The heart of the forestLise Létourneau was born in the village of Rivière Rouge in the Upper Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. Nature is the source of her inspiration. "I was born in the heart of the boreal forest. It is no coincidence that nature not only inspires me, but has become a part of my raw material." Her work consists primarily of in situ installations which could be categorized as land art.

Her long term project Roches Nomads, in collaboration with Wanda Campbell, explores different textures and shapes found in nature. The digital photographs of these ephemeral works have an other-worldly quality, like satellite photos from another universe. Létourneau is a member of Diagonale, Center for Arts and Fibers of Quebec, as well as the artists' collective Precambrians. She serves on a number of committees for the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications and is currently the president of the board of RAAV (Visuals Artists association for Quebec)

Playing with spirit
Tommy Toxic (the artist formally known as Thomas Monahan) has been creating and playing from day one. His playful enthusiasm extended through three years in an inner city Art Program (formerly known as high school) and right up to his graduation from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1977. He has been in over 50 exhibits since then and his work can be found in national and international collections, both public and private. He is also included in the Canada Council Art Bank.

Tommy creates objects and paintings incorporating a wide variety of materials (mostly found) in the spirit of Art Povera. He engages through any vehicles available including performance based works or edible feasts and gatherings. His work constantly questions while acknowledging current issues and trends but always with his unique quirkiness and sense of optimism.

Exploring archetypal shapes
Artist, Jarmila Kavena, looks at the practical dialogue between hot metal and physical forces. Her pieces examine the interplay of shape, enclosure and expansion of space and the logistics of growth. Materials, techniques and images from the foundry processes of metal transformation are the underpinning of her work.

"The foundry where I have my studio is a fascinating place. Its complexity makes it similar to a living organism. The foundry is my connection to the microcosm of matter, to the hierarchy of people working in this place, as well as to the macrostructure of the whole world of which it is a living little cell. I am enchanted by its black magic, by the resonance of human history within it and by the practical use of mathematics, physics and chemistry there."

In her latest Spiral series, Kavena has taken the Archimedes spiral as a starting point, casting spirals in a flat form to be heat-treated into a three-dimensional shape. The curved shape is reminiscent of the archetypal DNA form, an allegory for the development of cultures, civilizations and the universe. The metal spiral represents all things that can grow and change in time and space, a metaphor for the human journey.

Colours of creation
French-born Linda Montgomery is a respected Canadian artist, illustrator & educator. Her award-winning pastel drawings and oil paintings have been published in over 100 Publications, collected worldwide by major corporate clients and private collectors including the Aga Khan Foundation and Earth Day Canada. Her artwork has also exhibited at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, Leo Castelli Gallery in New York and The Contemporary Artist Centre in Massachusetts.

Her creative use of colour resulted in her being chosen for several key projects including "The Art of Building Campaign" in Phase 3 of the Art Gallery of Ontario expansion, the Milk Calendar for the Milk Marketing Board and several LCBO signage campaigns.

Linda uses colour, mood and spirit to evoke expressions of life. Her inspiration comes from the natural as well as the symbolic. In the last 10 years she has been focused on her first love -- the environment. "Our Canadian Wilderness is our legacy to protect. My "Dear Earth" painting is a prayer that we all need to engage in." She now lives and works in the Mulmur Hills, on the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario and is currently working on a body of work to support The Nahanni River. Linda is one of the Toronto Mille Femmes and was celebrated at the Luminato Festival in June 2008. Linda teaches in the Faculty of Design at OCAD University in Toronto.