Treasured Memories: Thinking with Things brings together the works of five Toronto-based artists: Jasmine Cardenas, Renee Hayward, Sara Angelucci, Sarah Malekzadeh and Vanessa Hussey, to visualize what role can ordinary objects play in framing particular stories, creating histories, and memorialization. It opens up the discussion about the relationships between people and the everyday things and emphasizes that our history is stored in our objects and it is time we embrace it and try to understand who we are.
Jasmine Cardenas’ work deals with issues like memory, relics and mementos, nostalgia, and search for self-identity through family histories. By examining her family’s past and stories from her parents, who came to Canada in the 1970s, her recent work You are the glue that holds us together emphasizes Cardenas’ cultural background and shows her reflections and desire to understand her identity as a Canadian-Ecuadorian artist. Her work is a mix of two cultures visualized through the use of vivid colors, distorted sculptural shapes, and personal memories. It also has a celebratory feature that emphasizes her family’s history, the one so different from the Canadian culture where she lives today.
The act of collecting is an incredibly visceral experience for Renee Renée Hayward. After eye witnessing the death of her grandmother, the artist began to heal through looking at objects left from the past and find the moments that connect her to happy childhood memories when her grandmother was still alive. For Hayward, those everyday things provided a passageway to explore the concepts like death, memory, relics and mementos, nostalgia, the presence and absence of the body,and the object and formed her work as a tangled web of experience, observations, and research.
In “Untitled (Kitty Crompton)”, Hayward tries to recreate a portrait of her grandmother using the objects as reminders of the character, style, and interests of their owner. Working through many iterations, the final installation consists of nine objects: a phone, a book, a pillow, a spoon, a drawer, a chair, a frame, a clock and a wooden shoe stretcher, that Hayward’s grandmother used the most and that formed a complete portrait of her.
Sara Angelucci’s Everything in my Father’s wallet / Everything in my wallet project developed from the discovery of her father’s wallet in a box of family memorabilia, ten years after his passing. In examining its contents, (55 items including driver’s license, old photographs, heart medication prescription, etc.) the artist became fascinated by how these items built a portrait of this man – an immigrant, laborer, father, husband, hunter…etc.
Angelucci began to wonder what the contents of her wallet would reveal about herself. By bringing the contents of the two wallets together the work not only builds two portraits, or suggests clues of a father/daughter relationship, but themes which go beyond the individual owners emerge: generational differences, gender differences, and a class/cultural shift resulting from her father’s immigration and lack of formal education, while she was born, educated and raised in Canada.
Many people collect relics and mementos that belonged to their relatives and family members. These things often have a story associated with them, and they also enliven the memories people have about the memento owners. These objects are usually kept hidden in a box, inside or on top of a shelf or places in family albums; most of the time they are not actively used and are kept just as reminders of the past. Nevertheless, some memento owners keep their objects active and use them in their everyday life or even in their artistic practice. One of such example is Sarah Malekzadeh who owns her grandma’s stamp, which she used to sign her name, and utilizes this object to paint a portrait of her grandmother. This physical object became a foundation and a catalyst for creating a series of artworks as well as and the tool for their production. Malekzadeh’s work enlivens the memory of her grandmother as well as allowed the artist to continue using the memento but in a new but still productive way.
Vanessa Hussey is an artist who explores the infinitive potential of the book form. She presents books as art objects that help her to discuss issues like memory, nostalgia and understanding yourself and your experiences through memories and experiences of someone’s else. The five prints presented in this exhibition focuses on books and the marking and changes people tend to make to them. Not every piece represents a book in its original form: some books have underlines, others have ripped, folded and cut out pages visualizing the experiences people might have while reading a book as well as how these experiences can be different at different times of our lives or for different people and even different generations.
Jasmine Cardenas (b. 1995, Toronto) is a multi-disciplinary artist working with sculptural paintings, collage and installation. She received her BFA from OCAD University (2017) and is a graduate of the Florence Off-Campus Study Program. As a first-generation Ecuadorian-Canadian, she explores themes of cultural hybridity influenced by memory, family photographs, and her personal experiences. Cardenas is the recipient of the OCAD University Cross-Disciplinary Studies Award (2017). Her work will be included as part of the Art Gems Silent Auction collection (2018). Her work can be seen at: http://www.jasminecardenas.ca/
Renée Hayward is a graduate of OCAD University and was awarded the 2017 Medal for Cross Disciplinary Art Practices. She specialized in Life Studies, a program that explores the
intersections of art and science. As a multi-disciplinary artist with a focus on natural science and history, both of which influence her observation and research-based practice, Renée builds narratives from collections of objects, exploring and manipulating the relationships between everyday items. Her current work considers the impressions made on the spaces we inhabit through the functional and decorative items that we choose to accumulate. She has shown work locally, in Toronto’s Ontario Science Centre (2014), Art Square Gallery (2015), Ben Navaee Gallery (2016) and others. Her work can be seen at: http://www.reneehayward.com/
Sara Angelucci is a Toronto-based artist working in photography, video and audio. Her work explores vernacular photographs and films, analyzing the original context in which images are made. Drawing attention to conventions of image making, her work foregrounds the cultural role vernacular images play in framing particular stories, creating histories, and memorialization. Angelucci’s work has developed from an examination of the family archive and immigration, to a broader analysis and interpretation of anonymous/found photographs. In recent photography, video, and audio projects, Angelucci draws from the history of photography, as well as natural and social histories, transforming found images and repositioning them within the broader cultural context from which they emerge.
Sara Angelucci completed her BA at the University of Guelph and her MFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She has exhibited her photography across Canada including exhibitions at the Art Gallery of York University, Le Mois de la Photo in Montreal, Vu in Quebec City, the Toronto Photographers Workshop, the MacLaren Art Centre, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Richmond Art Gallery, and the St. Mary’s University Art Gallery in Halifax. Her work has been included in group shows in the US, Europe, and at the Pingyao Biennale in China. Her videos have been screened across Canada and abroad, at festivals in Europe, China, Australia and the U.S. She has participated in artist residencies at the Art Gallery of Ontario, NSCAD (Halifax), the Banff Centre, and at Biz-Art in Shanghai. Angelucci is an Adjunct Professor in Photography at the School of Image Arts, Ryerson University. Her work can be seen at: http://sara-angelucci.ca/
Sarah Malekzadeh is a New York-based artist who primarily works with oil paint. Her work is often inspired by her relationships, her mixed Iranian, Canadian and American background and the environment. Sarah has a BA in Arts and Contemporary Studies from Ryerson University and a BFA in Drawing and Painting from OCAD University. She is currently in the MFA Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her work can be seen at: http://www.sarahmalekzadeh.com/
Vanessa Hussey is a Toronto based artist and current advertising student at OCADU who also holds a BFA in photography from OCADU. Her photography work is often rooted in memory, nostalgia, and connections with the past, both strong and tenuous. Her work has been included in shows at the Harbourfront Centre, Edward Day Gallery, and ACT’s Snap! Live Auction. Her work can be seen at: http://www.vanessahussey.photography/