Visual arts review: group effort at The Craig Gallery

Visual Arts Nova Scotia’s annual mentorship exhibition offers space to consider the nature of collaboration.


To July 21
The Craig Gallery, 2 Ochterloney Street

Group effort, the aptly named exhibition at Dartmouth's Craig Gallery, features work by eight artists at various stages in their careers. Since 2006, Visual Arts Nova Scotia's mentorship program has paired emerging and established artists for a 10-month period; the resulting show works to highlight the practices of the artists involved and gives us space to consider the nature of collaboration, intergenerational skill-sharing and the timelines we use to map artists' careers.

Parts feel like someone's travel journal has exploded on the wall. Directions and maps and passport fragments find a place in Jenny Yujia Shi's work, her mixed media and paper cut-out silhouettes sandwiched between behind panes of glass. Arrows, text and layered figures suggest transience and travel, with red and black stark against the white backdrop. Similar layering can be seen in Peter Dykhuis' paintings, with inky streaks and splotches working to reveal and conceal patterns and colours beneath. Katharine (Kyle) Vingoe-Cram exhibits fragments of a larger comic whose narrative explores queer stories in small-town Nova Scotia, while Emily Lawrence decorates the wall with expertly crafted fake food, stuck and scattered like the perfect aftermath of a food fight (or picnic). Karin Cope's wildlife scenes and writing ask us to consider what is at risk in the threat of climate crisis. Charley Young's frottages—graphite is rubbed against paper to reveal the shape and texture of what's underneath it—of building fixtures from East Port also take us outside.

For Carrie Allison and Ursula Johnson the mentorship process worked out to be a collaboration, exploring access ancestral ways of making by hand and the ways these skills can encourage colonial resistance. A table in the gallery has their respective materials laid out—basket-weaving for Johnson, beading for Allison—where the two artists, one emerging and one established, could presumably sit and work together.