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Sculpture vulture 

The Sculpture Lecture Series brings in contemporary sculpture’s heavy hitters to talk about this growing field.

click to enlarge The influential Liz Magor’s Leather (4 cigarettes). - LIZ MAGOR
  • The influential Liz Magor’s Leather (4 cigarettes).
  • Liz Magor

Sym Corrigan and Kim Morgan wanted to have discussions about contemporary sculpture. But the Dalhousie Art Gallery employee and the assistant professor from NSCAD didn't want to just talk to one another---they wanted to explore the subject with some big hitters and let other people in on the conversation. The solution: The Sculpture Lecture Series, put on by the Contemporary Arts Projects Society and the Sculpture Area of NSCAD University.

"Our intentions with this series are to initiate a discussion about contemporary sculptural practices through talks by internationally known speakers," says Corrigan. They "represent a wide range of experiences within this field." When asked about the process of selecting the speakers for the series, Corrigan mentions how concepts about sculpture have changed. "One of the reasons why we organized this series is that the term 'sculpture' now encompasses such a wide range of practices that its identity has become unclear. It was difficult to narrow down our list of possible speakers, in the end we decided to focus on artists who had materially-based practices."

The lucky three are Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Liz Magor and Claire Bishop. The first lecture, featuring Ukeles, was held in early February. Ukeles is as known for her public art as she is for her ideas about ecology and sustainability. Next month, noted art historian and critic Bishop will be the guest speaker. This Thursday it is Liz Magor who will take the podium. Magor's work has been shown at the MoMA in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam as well as the Sydney and Venice Biennales.

"I am always looking for comfort in a world disturbingly subject to change," writes Magor in an artist's statement. "Sometimes I find it in objects, things that sit still for awhile and slowly gather, then release, their history. I wanted to do work that would objectify some history of a life, or at least the life of a body and the process of change that affects that body."

The current associate professor in visual arts at Emily Carr is known for such works as Production, a trompe l'oeil of "bricks" constructed of pulped newspaper moulded into the shape of bricks. The famed work plays with the visual cue of shape---heavy construction materials---but these bricks are almost feather-light, even if they are made up of words and ideas.

The lecture series promises to bring about heavy ideas, but in a way that is accessible and engaging. "As an art student it's important to be exposed to various ways of making things and to hear artists speak about their working process and experiences," says Corrigan. In the case of Thursday's lecture, Magor was a special choice.

"Her work has been a major influence on both of us so she was one of the first people that came to our minds when we were developing this series," says Corrigan. "We think both the students and the public will find her presentation engaging and students will benefit from her studio visits with them."

Morgan, who also teaches a sculpture seminar, wanted to give students the opportunity to not only learn about, but also from, the people they are studying. "It gives the students a great opportunity to hear and interact with these people in person," she says. "Not only does Halifax get an interesting public presentation on contemporary art, but the NSCAD students also have the opportunity to do a studio visit or attend an informal Q and A session with the artist."

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