The title of this exhibition comes from the poem “Roman Fountain” by Rainer Maria Rilke. The poem expresses the emotive, affective qualities that the poet discovers in a simple stone fountain.
A Stone-Transforming Smile explores themes of close-looking and deep aesthetic appreciation of natural and manmade objects, through art. The exhibition makes the case, through art, that we need to address the non-human things of the world with care and attention, because they deeply enrich our lives in quiet ways. Thematically, the exhibition celebrates life and water: works like Susan Stewart’s “Alter,” or Kirstie McCallum’s “Antennas to the Sky” are made to invite viewers to look deeply at humble organic forms. Sarah Carlson brings together plants and stone in her hand-made stalactites, which represent lakeshore caverns. Pamela Nelson’s “Folds and a Meteor (aka Danger!)” speaks to the fragile and precarious, whether that is our human cultures our or natural ecosystems. “A Stone-Transforming Smile speaks softly but urgently about the need to protect that which enriches our lives: our watersheds, our visible and invisible natural worlds, and our human cultural histories that are intimately entwined with these things.
Sarah Carlson is a painter, video and installation artist who recently completed her MFA at OCAD University. She earned her honours BFA in film production and studio art at York University in 2009 and BEd at OISE, University of Toronto in 2010. Sarah has been a resident artist on the Toronto Islands; Algonquin provincial Park; Yukon Territory; Catalunya, Spain; Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and Florence, Italy. Her work explores expanded subjectivities within more-than-human worlds.
Kirstie McCallum is an interdisciplinary artist who explores sense-perception, materiality, and form, through ephemeral installations, photography, and language. Her work ranges from sculptural installations and built environments, to photographs of "metaphoric objects,” light-based installations, and lyric poetry. In 2007 she completed a poetry collection called Osmosis, which explored the poetics of place. Themes from this work led her to explore sculpture and image as metaphor. In 2015 Kirstie participated in a Banff Centre visual arts residency called Food+Water+Life. The resulting photographs and installation were shown at Calgary’s New Gallery under the title Inflorescence of Bone. She returned to the Banff Centre in 2018 for the Outdoor School artist residency. In her sculptural work, she is process-driven, working with materials over a long period of time. Her graduating MFA exhibition, Inviting the Outside In explored the relationship between the organic and the inorganic using ephemeral materials, including earth, ash and plant-based pigments, which were displayed among precarious structures built from pine, plaster, and aluminum.
Pamela Nelson is an emerging interdisciplinary artist originally from Sudbury, Ontario, who has been inspired by local geology to create works that explore the ways that specific materials have become entangled within human culture. Her work is informed by extensive research into the natural history, properties and industrial processes of managing minerals and ore as raw materials. Nelson creates sculptural works through processes that combine traditional, artisanal methods with state of the art rapid prototyping. Her work explores themes of gravity, geology, compression and edge condition as well as notions of beauty and ugliness. Pamela has done residencies in Florence, Italy and at the Carrara Marble Quarry in Tuscany. She earned a Bachelor of Architecture (1995) from Carleton University and an MFA (2018) from OCAD University.
Susan N. Stewart is a visual artist with works in corporate and private collections in New York, Tokyo, Paris, London, Melbourne, Toronto, Montreal, Germany and Bermuda. She is the founder of Flick the Switch Art Studios & Collective in Toronto.
“Whether it is a face or a landscape, what is important to me is the poetry in the paint. One 'Madonna and Child' painting might be a masterpiece and another just dead paint. Why? Why is one person's brushstroke different from another's? I ponder these things as I work and wait for the magic to happen. It comes in the most surprising ways. I spent several years at an artist's residence where I worked with many great artists. The American artist Suzanna Coffey had a big influence on me. She paints nothing but self-portraits. Portraits were the antithesis of what I was doing. It required looking closely at the 'outer' instead of the 'inner' where I spent a lot of curious time.”
- Susan N. Stewart