The UBC department of art history, visual art & theory hosted a free open studios event showcasing the work of its graduate and undergraduate visual arts students at the Audain Art Centre on December 13.
From 4 to 6 p.m., visitors enjoyed light refreshments and the opportunity to engage with student artists and their work. Works used a variety of mediums, from more conventional painting and photography to furniture, metal and fabric.
Both the graduate and undergraduate studios offered a variety of engaging art and perspectives. Alejandra Morales, a second-year master's of fine arts (MFA) student, displayed her paintings of birds and natural motifs. A highlight of her collection was a gigantic, dark lilac canvas with surreal birds and flowers, with printed text along the edges. Peering into the studio, I was immediately drawn to the painting for its size and beautiful colour. It was the sort of work that you could look at for a long time because it slowly drew you into its world.
For this work, Morales was inspired by the middle-aged housewives she met in art classes in her home city of Monterrey, Mexico, and wanted to capture their world and its dystopian undertones.
“I think of them as being analogous to this idea that I saw so present in these types of women where you have to present yourself in this way,” Morales said. “You have to be a perfect mother and a perfect housewife, but at the same time, like in my painting, there's so many things that don't make sense.”
Like Morales, fifth-year Bachelor's of Arts student Lucy Elliott also explored their own experience in their work. They exhibited a self-portrait and a portrait of their mother, which struck me strongly as I approached Elliott’s studio. While some paintings grabbed your attention for bright colours or flashy design, I was captivated in feeling the warmth and comfort of a person I only knew from a glimpse of their portrait. Elliott depicted their mother against an orange and yellow background, wrapping her hands around a mug on a table and sweetly smiling at the viewer.
After supporting her mother through health problems this semester, Elliott wanted to commemorate the experience and draw from the reflections it provoked.
“I think that reminds you that life is so fleeting, and you never know what's going to happen, and to paint your loved ones while you can,” said Elliott.
Much of Elliott’s work reflects similar personal themes. Other work on display, such as a book of painted pages showing different parts of her body, reflected her own process of getting to know herself.
Overall, the event was an excellent opportunity to engage with student artists in a relaxed setting.
The event also presented a unique opportunity to view pieces from a variety of artists without curation. Though some seemed to complement each other and form patterns — such as the works discussed in this articles’ reflections on womanhood — there was no common theme across the studios. That offered a rare chance to see what artists themselves want to exhibit, and for viewers to peruse more freely.