Apr. 13, 2011 - Issue #808: Destroyer
A gentle seduction
Sherri Chaba explores the consequences of progress
This Edmonton-based artist, trained in the visual arts through Grant MacEwan College and the University of Alberta, has a treasure trove of unusual objects from which she constructs her surreal, found-object sculptures. Chaba's father is an avid collector of vintage oddities, assorted antiques, and the collection, which fills five buildings, has proved to be excellent fodder for Chaba's art making. In her current exhibition, The Silence of Chaos at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Chaba points to a tiny stuffed bird and an ancient merchant's cabinet as two notable works gleaned from her father's collection. But this connection to relationships in Chaba's work is more than purely material.
Conceptually, the artist harnesses the fuzzy familiarity of the odd objects she repurposes in her work to create tension. While discussing the work, Chaba points to artistic duo Jake and Dinos Chapman and their manipulation of familiar objects to spark the conflict of attraction and repulsion as inspiration for the tension between objects that she creates to an environmentalism-tinged end. The artist twists this concept in her current exhibition by taking advantage of the appealing unusual antique tools and unidentifiable things to engage viewers' attention, only to bar access by placing them behind a web of floor to ceiling wire. This again creates the contrast the artist describes as significant—the handmade antiques juxtapose the industrial wire. The desire for conflict is so fundamental that you can hear it unwittingly described by Chaba as she talks about her love of wire and the labour of carefully weaving the inflexible material together.
Although the artist's current mode of creating work was catalyzed by an experience with a pipeline on family land, it is the careful consideration of relationships and tensions between land, family, and industry that is the driving conceptual force in her work.
"My work explores the complex relationships our Western culture has constructed relative to nature," reads her artist statement. Chaba sees her work as a "subtle way to envision the future" using the only thing we know—the past. Her environmentalism, she describes, is not through the usual forms of political activism, and her work does not dogmatically preach to its audience. Instead, Chaba has found her own place in the dialogue about environmental stewardship and interdependence.
In her artist statement, Chaba explains, "My inquiry is driven by concern for the environment and by my belief that the artist can play a role in conceptualizing and building new frameworks for interaction with the land. I intend my works to be remedial—serving as a vehicle to inform ideologies and behaviours and to elicit new ways of imagining and experiencing the environment." Through dedication to an artistic practice that makes space for rumination about the interdependence of the land, industry, and us, the artist quietly makes a powerful and intelligent contribution to the conversation. V
Until Sun, May 15
The Silence of Chaos
Works by Sherri Chaba
The Art Gallery of Alberta (2 Sir Winston Churchill Square)
Artist Workshop: Sat, Apr 16 (2 pm) vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy