“She should draw herself as she is” – a drawing project with children over three months, March – May, 2017
I have been an Artist-in-Residence with a group of 10 preschoolers (from 2 years, 6 months old to 3 years, 11-month olds) and their educator, Ashley since late February. At the time when I started, the children were drawing their face from a mirror or tracing it from a photograph on a light table. I noticed the children did not look in the mirror or only very briefly, just a glimpse in the beginning. So I wondered, how do they know what they look like if they don’t observe? I told Ashley an artist spends 90 percent of their time on observation and 10 percent of their time on doing.
One day in early March, Delilah (3 years, 3 months old) drew herself from the mirror on a large sheet of newsprint, but she was dissatisfied with her drawing as she could not draw her shirt. The next day during morning meeting the other children were asked if they could offer suggestions to Delilah.
Natalie (3 years, 9 months) makes a small circle with her finger under the head in the drawing suggesting the shirt should be there.
But Delilah says: “it is small. I am a big girl. “
Natalie draws a larger circle with her finger that goes all around Delilah’s head in the drawing.
Delilah: “No, my shirt will be over my head, and it will be stretched. My mom will be mad.”
Maisey (same age as Natalie) suggests drawing a medium circle. But Delilah stands her ground insisting she is a big girl.
Maisey: “Then she should draw herself as she is.” (meaning life size)
Thus a three months project of observational drawing/painting was born. We traced the children’s contours life size on a large sheet of paper, each choosing a position they wanted to be traced. Then they decided what to paint first, what part to focus on. They observed themselves from a mirror and discussed their similarities and differences. They formed communities of practice, watching each other paint and draw, offering each other help and suggestions. Their drawings became more and more detailed as they made focused drawings on separate sheets of paper developing their observational skills over time. In some drawings, they focused only on the details of their eyes. In another drawings, they focused on their mouth. They applied the knowledge they learned from observation on the life-size drawing. They made profound observations and discoveries along the way.
The pictures here show the end of the journey, how they see themselves through direct observation and through learning from each other. For the last week, these drawings were on my walls in my studio as I took them home to repair the creases and torn parts of the paper. I will miss them, and the children too.
From Foraging to Forging Communities Poster Presentation – College Arts Association Conference, February 15-18, 2017 New York
Poster session description from the CAA’s program:
Title: From Foraging to Forging Communities
Author: Gabriella Solti, Independent Artist
From Foraging to Forging Communities, is a community engaged art project that culminated in an ecological artwork through the transformation of raw materials and hands-on workshops at Satellite Project Space (Satellite), a public art gallery in downtown London (Ontario, Canada) from June 25th to July 17th, 2016. The project was conceived and led by local artists, Lynette de Montreuil and Gabriella Solti, and was funded by the London Arts Council with in-kind support from Satellite’s operating partners, Museum London, Western University, and Bealart. First, the artists organized expert-led foraging walks in London’s parks and forests where Londoners learned to identify plants, learn about ecological practices and examine how organisms work in unison. The collected grasses were then transformed into handmade paper at Satellite, that the artists turned into a low-tech, DIY paper making studio. 246 participants (age 3-80) produced 935 sheets of paper in two weeks facilitated by the artists. The last week, working with the newly created paper, participants carefully weighed their choices as they transformed them into sculptural forms that reflected how people perceived themselves in nature. They developed an increased appreciation not only of London’s ecological heritage, its flora and vegetation but also of the value of collaborative labor. The artists’ blog, with daily entries and plenty of images, is available for everyone to view. forgingcommunities.weebly.com. While the blog presents the immediacy of the experience as it unfolded, the poster session presents the project from the perspectives of the artists’ reflections and learning.
Open Studio, Banff Centre, October 5, 2017
This video shows 40 ‘Fireflies’ I made and before they were taken to the music huts at the Banff Centre during the Art of Stillness Residency, Sept 26-Oct 9, 2016.
Using simple creative construction techniques, clear food wrap and tiny multicolour flashing LED lights I made small, lightweight and soft light balls that rhythmically change their colour through a multitude of vibrant colours. These light balls can be used in choreographing the patterns of both fireflies and meteor showers.
Made in Banff
artists’ book from the collection of the Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives created by artists in residence at The Banff Centre
I have just arrived at The Banff Centre for The Art of Stillness residency. What a nice surprise to see my artist’s book, Wildlife in the Banff National Park that I made in 2013 exhibited in the Sally Borden Building Display Case.
Shooting Stars, creative data visualization of the last 30 years of shooting stars above London
Shooting Stars is a light performance Gabriella Solti produced for the Market Street Alley’s light canopy with technical assistance from the talented Liam Wallner, a student of Fanshawe College’s Theatre Arts – Technical Production program. It is a creative data visualization condensing the 12 most prominent meteor showers over the last 30 years. The data is taken from the meteor shower calendar of the American Meteor Society, and historical data from scientific publications.
Each meteor shower is represented with a different coloured light while the night sky is formed by dark blue LEDs. While we can’t produce a velocity of 44 miles/sec (Leonids), or 41 miles/sec (Orionids) on the light canopy, the speed of the meteors in relation to each other is scientifically accurate, as is their Zenithal Hourly Rate (the number of meteors a single observer would see in an hour of peak activity). The light performance also takes into consideration the phenomenological characteristics of the meteor showers, persistent trains, bright fireballs, faint (Delta Aquariids), or bright, intensely coloured (Geminids) meteors.
Thirty years (1987-2016) are condensed into 90 minutes thus one year equals 3 minutes, one month 15 seconds. Meteor showers do not fill the sky consistently every month, so while some months are bursting with activity, the canopy sometimes goes quiet. Just like real stargazing, a moment filled with anticipation can suddenly erupt with a plethora of vibrant fireballs.
The video is only a less than 3 minutes recording of the light show.
Making Fireflies at the Dundas Street Festival under Shooting Stars, Saturday, September 17, 2016
I had materials for 150 “fireflies” and in less then 2 hours all were used up. 150 people participated; it was great to see the interest and delight of making these light balls.
From Foraging to Forging Communities
June 27-July 17, 2016
Satellite Project Space
121 Dundas St, London, N6A 1E8
Local artists, Lynette de Montreuil and Gabriella Solti invite the community to join them on foraging walks, then turn the foraged raw materials into paper at Satellite Project Space. The paper will be further transformed into voluminous forms through stitching, folding and weaving in collaboration with the public through a series of hands on workshops. All events and workshops are free and suitable for all ages and abilities.
The first foraging walk will be held Monday June 27th, 6:30pm at the German Club, 1 Cove Road, London. Meet the artists in the parking lot at 6:30pm.
On June 29th the gallery space will be filled with the smell of cooking plants, and the artists invite the community to come and experience the process. They also hope Londoners will join them in beating the fibre on June 30th, so visitors and workshop participants can start pulling the first sheets of paper on July 1st. Aprons and gloves will be ready for anyone who wants to try their hand at papermaking.
Through transforming plant materials into paper the artists illuminate the process, time and skill that it takes to create a sheet of paper. The project aims to cultivate an increased appreciation not only of London’s ecological heritage, its flora and vegetation, but also the value of collaborative labour.
Follow Satellite Project Space on Facebook or check their website or follow the artists’ blog for a detailed schedule of upcoming foraging walks, paper making and paper sculpture workshops:
Hours: Wednesday – Friday, 2-7PM
Additional hours: Saturday, July 16, 12-9PM
Sunday, July 17, 1-5PM
The artists are grateful to the London Arts Council and City of London for funding their project, and to Bealart, Museum London, Satellite Project Space and Western University Visual Arts Department for their in-kind support.
My new art program at the London Children’s Museum:
Book Arts arts du livre Canada, a beautiful magazine published twice a year covering subjects in the area of artist’s books, paper making, bookbinding and the history of the book has just published my 2000 word essay on my creative process. I am excited and grateful they asked me to write for the magazine.
Book Arts arts du livre Canada 2016, vol. 7, no. 1 pages 15-23
The Book of Hours, 2015
My artist’s book, The Book of Hours was awarded the MCBA Prize 2015 Juror’s Special Recognition of Merit Award and it will be exhibited at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts from July 17 through August 3, 2015 alongside with the other honoured works. http://mcbaprize.org
The exhibition of this book is supported by the Ontario Arts Council’s Exhibition Assistance.
In April 2015 I was Artist-in-Residence at Museum London working with their the Youth Council for four weeks. I created an art program for them that drew inspiration from Jane Buyers: Gather… Arrange… Maintain exhibition and involved the use of accessible technology. They used tiny vibrating motors (the same that can be found in cell phones) combined with household materials to make small painting robots and low cost LED lights combined with origami flowers coloured and patterned by hand. Their work culminated in two large scale collaborative paintings produced by the robots dipped into paint that served as a backdrop for a field of colourful, technologically enhanced flowers.
The four week program, including drawing and sketching in the gallery, provided ample opportunity for the participating teens to reflect on nature and artifice, as well as chance and intention. Here’s a short video illustrating what they did during the four weeks:
PAINTING ROBOTS IN ACTION
Watch video: https://vimeo.com/131521089
Hear Hear 09 / Zounds!!
Saturday, August 9, 2014
8:00- 11:00 PM
Forest City Gallery proudly presents HEAR HERE 09 featuring 8 experimental acts from Ontario and Quebec. This particular Hear Hear, guest curated by Chris Myhr, has been titled Zounds!! and will feature:
Hear Here 09 (aka. Zounds!!) will coincide with the 100th anniversary of Futurist composer Luigi Russolo’s unveiling of the controversial Intonarumori “noise intoner” devices to the classical orchestra, one year after the publication of his influential manifesto The Art of Noises. Hear Here is a series of live-shows that take place at FCG in between exhibitions.
Performing Crossword Canon – Saturday, August 9, 2014
My monographic thesis, From Means to Ends: Labour as Art Practice can be freely downloaded from University of Western Ontario electronic thesis and dissertation repository:
My thesis discusses labour from three different historical and theoretical viewpoints, namely Karl Marx’s perspectives on labour, Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Action and Jacques Rancière’s radical view of workers as an aspirational class, including how their respective philosophies influenced discourse on labour in contemporary art. To examine the aesthetic consequences of these labour theories, my discussion of each writer is accompanied by a case study of a contemporary artist whose work operates in dialogue with the philosophical ideas presented. In conclusion, I bring these theories together by focusing on how they implicate art making as labour, and I point to my own art practice, which aims to collapse ‘means’ into ‘ends’ as a possible strategy to address some of the issues raised by the theorists I examine.
My work, Geometric Laughter was part of the Thinking | Feeling exhibition and I presented the work on the conference as well. (Actually I and the unsuspecting audience performed it together using my Laughter-to-Go Fitness card.)
Art Libraries Journal, volume 39, issue 4, 2014 has just been published. My artist’s book, A Family Story as Told By Peter Bentley, is written about in an article by Katharina Hubschmann, senior librarian of the Wiener Library and curator of the international artist’s book competition and exhibition, Displaced.
My limited edition letterpress book, A Family Story as Told By Peter Bentley has been selected with 15 other books from 82 entries worldwide by the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, London, UK in 2014 to be showcased in an exhibition titled Displaced in the spring of 2014.
Split Film Filament
Second Year MFA Exhibition
October 10 – 25, 2013
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 10, 5 – 8 pm
Artlab Gallery, Western University
The Artlab Gallery is pleased to present Split Film Filament. This exhibition brings together recent work by Western University’s second year Master of Fine Arts students. Between sweat, knots, labour, air, projection, and gravity, the exhibition offers a common trajectory comprised of distinct lines of investigation.
This artist’s book was exhibited at the following venues in 2010-11:
Canadian Embassy (E.H. Norman Library), Tokyo, Japan (in conjunction with the Tokyo International Book Fair)
Simon Fraser University W.A.C. Bennett Library, Vancouver, BC
Book Art International, Frankfurt Book Fair, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Port Moody Arts Centre, Port Moody, BC
FAB Gallery, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt (The Most Beautiful Books From All Over The World), International Exhibit, Leipzig Book Fair, Leipzig, Germany
My artist’s book, Northwest has been included in the Book Art exhibition of Artetica.
For a New Art, Language and Relationship
We are for an Art that is created and not produced, that is shared and not distributed, that is experienced and not consumed.
We want to eradicate the language of consumer capitalism in relation to art. We want its words to vanish from academic discourse, from professors’ lectures, from curatorial practice, from artist talks, and from daily conversations. The words we choose determine our intention; they rule our actions. The infestation of the consumerist, capitalist language in our life, the forever repeated mantra of production, distribution, and consumption, endangers free thinking and creativity, endangers the artists’ capability and threatens their sensibility in probing, resisting, questioning society. This language has one purpose: to reduce the artist to a mere fit-in dummy, a mindless sleepwalker stripped of their seismic sensibilities.
We are for an Art that is personal and political.
Conceptual Art is bloodless, breathless, gutless, heartless, mindless, visionless, motionless, everythingless. It is like a truncated body embalmed with the artist’s ego, wrapped around tightly with forced, contrived, artificial thoughts and placed in the sarcophagus called an art gallery. Only an art whose source is the personal experience of the artist can speak to us with sincerity and can move us at the deepest level.
True art appreciation is the meeting point of two equal experiences: the artist’s personal experience which inspired the work and the viewer’s personal experience entering into a dialogue with it. But personal experience also speaks of the collective, the universal, or the historical. It is always political.
We are for an Art that is created with integrity.
Art speaks to us if it is truthful, if it conveys the values of the artist in an uncompromising way, if it is created with authenticity and with commitment to one’s core values and principles. But it becomes false once the harmony between the values and their representation is broken.
All forms of art are valid if it is based on experience, if it is socially relevant and if it has something important to say. Creating work whose sole purpose is to serve the commodifying urge of culture-industry capital in the hope of a glamorous corporatized artist career is a cynical affirmation of the inner workings of the art market. Artists who succumb to this cynical affirmation instead of standing for critical opposition lose credibility; they are no more than wooden puppets whose strings are in the hand of culture-industry middlemen.
We are for an Art whose success is measured by qualitative experience and not by economic quantifiers.
Art is personal; it speaks to us directly, to our very humanity. We let our guard down when engaging with art; our response comes from the gut. We all have had our own personal, subjective experience with art, when we were moved, consoled, or healed through the experience. Art is with us in joy, grief and sorrow, in our displacement, in our search for our selves, in our attempt at making sense of the world. It is our companion for life. If an artwork moves or offers insight or a deeply personal experience to just one person, it was worth creating. Art makes a difference in people’s lives, one person at a time. It is nonsense to measure the success of an artwork or artists in the number of visitors to their exhibition, the number of reviews they have received or the highest price the artwork commanded on the market. Its success depends only on its ability to create a deeply personal experience.
We are for an Art that is exchanged in transparent interactions and experienced through equal access.
We want the middleman out – the dealers, the career curators, the art consultants with their all consuming personal agendas. We want to deconstruct the supercurators’ power, reveal the dynamics of the mega shows and biennales and bring to light the underlying motives and interconnectedness of the capitalist and speculative art market and its faithful support from the never independent curators. We want to make everybody honest.
We want all public galleries and museums free to the public, for people to have equal access to art regardless of someone’s social status and financial abilities.
We are for an Art that is created with utmost integrity, shared equally and experienced with an open mind.