by the well of urd at Macaulay & Co. Fine Art, Vancouver
In Norse mythology, the three principal Norns are goddesses who represent the past, present, and future. They draw from the well of urd (also known as the well of fate) and weave through the fabric of time. Inspired by this story, by the well of urd, a group exhibition curated by Lee Plested at Macaulay & Co. Fine Art, brings together four female artists — all friends, who have been living and working in Vancouver since the 1960s, active in the local arts and literary scenes, and involved with organizations like Intermedia and Western Front. They all draw from their individual life and art-making experiences, spanning decades. In this exhibition, we see recent works produced from experiments with various mediums over the last ten years.
Judith Copithorne, best known as a concrete poet, displays five digital drawings full of exciting squiggles and lines that look like graphic transcriptions from Microsoft Paint (a program made popular in the nineties). “Homage to the tit bird’s nest,” the only visible words on one drawing, are typed horizontally in Adobe Illustrator’s default font Myriad Pro. This hints at a more recent incorporation of technology than at first glance.
Carole Itter’s wall installation is a collection of thrift store amateur pottery hung by string and nails. Behind each one is a hand-drawn depiction of the object with a descriptive label on the bottom right hand corner. Meticulously documented, this personal museum of discarded ceramic work is elevated to a more precious state – from trash to treasure. Also included are two framed studies for set pieces from a film Itter made. A beach landscape and a memorial quilt stretched in a frame act as memoirs of her earlier artistic process.
Rhoda Rosenfeld’s two abstract paintings depict an emotional, contemporary landscape. One painting shows a flooded plain and the other resembles a map showing the movement of migration. Interrupted by horizontal and right-angled red lines across the surface of the canvas, these works focus on the tension between our relationship with nature and the digital world. Well known as a writer and involved in the Kootenay School of Writing, Rosenfeld’s history with Structuralist thought is illustrated through this digital mark-making.
Trudy Rubenfeld’s computer generated videos and prints encapsulate strange, alternative worlds. Some fragments of the visuals simulate video games. When she inserts herself into the frame, she references the human condition and her own experience in a complicated and conceptual realm. They feel otherworldly and surrealist, yet also rooted in everyday experiences of our time.
These four artists and their repertoires have been largely excluded from the grand narrative of Vancouver’s art scene, but this exhibition makes an important contribution by drawing them into a more visible and well-deserved place within local and Canadian art history.
Justina Bohach facilitates various modes of cultural production within contemporary art. She has published with Blonde Art Books, The Mainlander, C Magazine, and Canadian Art. She is currently part of the curatorial team at the Vancouver Art Gallery. She can be followed on Instagram @then.on.second.thought.