Kasia Sosnowski at Stride Gallery, Calgary
By Maeve Hanna
Delicate, joyous, oddly enchanting. Magical, fumbling, tiny in size. The ceramic sculptures of Lethbridge artist Kasia Sosnowski in her solo exhibition good grief at Stride Gallery deal with mental health issues like grief and anxiety through a visual dialogue that is not easily narrated with spoken language. Their imagery ties the body to place and objects while simultaneously dislodging it. Orphaned hands sit on a table, while the lower half of a torso dangles in front of a window and a pair of legs sit atop a mirror box. Other pieces in the installation – tiny ceramics collected on a table – tie themselves to the body in an amorphous manner, meandering or sliding away from recognizable body parts, but still reminiscent of the human condition of experiencing pain and sadness. Together the collections of tiny fragments tell the story of moving through grief.
Progressing through the gallery, the viewer is captured, repulsed, drawn in, and amused. Pieces resembling dowsing rods sized for elves suggest a tool for divining a way through sorrow. Some figures appear to have lost control of themselves. A small bust has a pool of blue liquid pouring from its nipples. This aspect of the exhibition offers a space for understanding the process of grief and the need to move away from the societal restrictions placed upon expressing one’s emotions. Hanging from the ceiling in the second gallery is a large chain of tiny ceramic tears falling effortlessly in an immaculate cluster. The piece is satisfying in its materialistic manner of capturing the feeling of losing all control. It also demonstrates a tenderness and understanding towards this overwhelming feeling, and offers a space for acknowledging this need.
Sosnowski’s work creates space for acceptance, movement through grief, and the complex relationship we have to our own emotional health. Overall, the exhibition is accomplished yet subtle, humorous yet gentle.
Maeve Hanna is a writer and curator who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours in Visual Art and Literature from York University and the University of Leeds and a Master of Arts in Art History and Icelandic Studies from Université du Québec à Montréal and the University of Manitoba on location in Iceland. She has previously written for Black Flash, C Magazine, Canadian Art, esse arts + opinions, Frieze, Sculpture Magazine and the Senses and Society. She is Akimblog’s Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @maeve_hanna.