OUR MUTUAL FRIEND: A CONVERSATION WITH THE COLLECTION
Robert Achtemichuk, Lisa Birke, Patrick Cull, Laura De Decker, Barbara Hobot
and selected works from the Permanent Collection
3 June to 4 September 2016
Sixty years ago a group of visionaries met in Kitchener with a mission: to establish a public art gallery that would show the best in contemporary art. Through their conversation, research and efforts, the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery was founded.
In celebration of this anniversary, we have turned our attention toward cultivating new relationships between our visitors and the works that are held in trust for our community. Encompassing more than 4000 objects, the Permanent Collection reflects the many complex relationships that individuals may have with any given history. Each object tells us something about the time during which it was made, serving as a record of what we aspire to, cultivate, witness, negate and imagine in our respective and shared worlds. Moving beyond a traditional institutionally-directed approach to how meaning is ascribed,
we have invited five artists based in Kitchener-Waterloo to select works in the Permanent Collection with which they feel a sense of kinship. Our Mutual Friend premieres new work by Robert Achtemichuk, Lisa Birke, Patrick Cull, Laura De Decker, and Barbara Hobot alongside the works they each chose for inspiration.
In the last sixty years, our definition of conversation has flexed to make room for the increasing influence of technology on daily life. Real-time conversations can unfold virtually and instantaneously, using not only language but other forms of code. For the invited artists in Our Mutual Friend, different forms of conversational research are crucial to the creation of their work. Inspired by a bonfire painted by Alfred Laliberté, Robert Achtemichuk revisits the wonder of fiery illumination. Lisa Birke examines the tropes of femininity found within art history, mythology and popular culture through an absurdist perpetual conflict. Patrick Cull and Laura De Decker both seek out uncertainty and the unexpected within their respective painting and animation practices. Using the language of abstract sculpture, Barbara Hobot proposes an animism wherein material may be capable of self-directed forms of production. Whether by drawing inspiration from the work of others, or by seeking out conceptual allegiances, these artists echo a familiar desire to be connected to a broad culture of ideas, a desire that connects them to the Gallery's origins.
Crystal Mowry, Senior Curator
Born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan Robert Achtemichuk is an artist and former arts administrator based in Kitchener. Achtemichuk earned a BFA from the University of Manitoba and continued his studies in both France and Mexico.
He has exhibited his work across Canada since 1969. In 2015, he was awarded the Machteld Faas Xander Visual Arts Award from Arts Awards Waterloo Region. Most recently, Achtemichuk received a grant from the Waterloo Regional Arts Fund to produce new work for this exhibition.
Lisa Birke is an award winning Canadian video artist based in Kitchener. She received an MFA with distinction from the University of Waterloo in 2013. She has had solo exhibitions across Canada and her short films have been screened at film/video festivals and media centres internationally. Her short film Calendar Girls was awarded a "Jury Award for Creative Achievement" at the Arizona International Film Festival (USA) and the Jury Award at ForadCamp (Barcelona) in 2015.
Birke recently produced a new work for CAFKA 16 (Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area) and received an
Ontario Arts Council Emerging Media Artist Grant in 2016.
Patrick Cull received an MFA from York University in 2012. He has exhibited his work nationally, with solo shows at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery, Waterloo; Cambridge Galleries (now Idea Exchange), Cambridge; and group shows at
the Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor and Art Mūr, Montreal. His work is in several private collections and he is the recipient
of numerous grants and awards, including grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Sarick Purchase Award. Cull lives and works in Kitchener.
Waterloo-based Laura De Decker received her BA in Art and Art History (University of Toronto and Sheridan Institute),
an MFA in Visual Arts (University of Victoria), post-graduate diploma in Interactive Multi-Media (Sheridan), and taught at Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. Her work has been presented nationally and internationally.
In 2012, she created interactive 3-D immersive environments as an Artist-in-Residence for Christie Digital/CAFKA (Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area). De Decker received an Ontario Arts Council Chalmers Arts Fellowship
grant for 2015 to work with Dr. Raymond Laflamme to learn about quantum phenomena. Her work is in private collections
in Canada and Europe.
Barbara Hobot holds an MFA from Western University and a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Waterloo. She has
shown her work most recently at AKA Artist Run, Saskatoon; Elora Centre for the Arts; Art Gallery of Windsor, and DNA Artspace, London. Earlier shows were held at Art Mūr, Montreal; Harbourfront Centre, Toronto; Galerie Kurt im Hirsch, Berlin; Chiellerie Gallery, Amsterdam; and Weglowa Art Studios, Bialystok. Hobot has participated in artist residencies in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Exhibitions in 2016 include Strong Bonds at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery, a group show at Idea Exchange, Cambridge, and a solo exhibition at Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto. She is the recipient of awards from the Ontario Arts Council and numerous academic scholarships. Hobot lives and works in Kitchener and is represented by Olga Korper Gallery.
IMAGE: Lisa Birke, Endgame (video concept still), 2016. Single channel video with audio. Image courtesy of the artist.
© Lisa Birke.