The Reach Opens 2019 with an Exploration of the Human Body

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When you think of the human body in art, what comes to mind? Is it the classical ideal embodied by Greek and Roman sculpture, Michelangelo’s muscular angels, or something else? What kinds of bodies are we used to seeing in art, and why? How do artists use the human form to explore issues such as identity, disability, aging, spirituality, philosophy, and sociology? The Reach starts 2019 with a suite of four new exhibitions that pose these questions, and that challenge our audiences to reconsider accepted notions about the human body in art.

Everyone is welcome to attend the celebration, meet the artists, connect with our arts community, and enjoy refreshments at the exhibitions opening reception on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 7pm at The Reach, 32388 Veterans Way.

Remote Gardening with DysfunctionED Tools is a 20-year retrospective of the work of Mohsen Khalili, an artist originally from Iran who resided in Abbotsford from 2002 to 2016. Khalili emigrated to Canada in 1997 and was soon exhibiting his work regularly in the Lower Mainland. His career took an unexpected turn when he was diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition. As he continues to work with physical tools that are increasingly failing, Khalili has embraced an aesthetics of imperfection – by “making undone,” he uses his work to reflect on the universal nature of entropy, and to remind us that to have a body inherently means learning to live with failure. Funded in part by The Hamber Foundation, Remote Gardening with DysfunctionED Tools is an imaginative and lived journey of one body as it becomes dysfunctional.

In Crash Pad and Trucker Bombs, artist Cindy Baker explores gender culture, queer theory, and fat activism, often with a focus on the ways weakening, disabled, obese, or otherwise socially taboo bodies fail to meet the demands of capitalist, consumer culture. The exhibition presents two distinct but related bodies of work: Crash Pad is a combination of drawing, video, and patterned wallpaper that depicts scenes of loving, domestic intimacy between everyday women with disabilities and chronic health issues. Trucker Bombs is a series of lightbox installations that speak to the pressures put on even able bodies to perform productivity under capitalism.

(In) Site is a photography-based exhibition byartist Stephanie Patsula. Patsula’s work is often performance-based, frequently occurring in remote wilderness areas for very limited (or no) audiences. This exhibition presents large-scale photographs that document these performances, in which she manipulates and contorts her body using mirrors and multiple exposure techniques to create uncanny forms that express bodily unease and lost identity in relation to the natural environment.

Patsula and Baker’s exhibitions are included in Capture Photography Festival’s 2019 Selected Exhibition Program.

Rounding out the season is Art Demand 5.1, work by emerging local artist Kendra Schellenberg and curated by Lisa Edwards. It features images of the female form drawn from glossy magazines, then reinterpreted and transformed using natural elements like wood and thorns. The works in this exhibition address broad themes of body and identity, particularly as they relate to notions of femininity and beauty. The Art on Demand exhibition program is a part of Emerge @ The Reach, a creative incubator that offers exciting professional development activities to aspiring curators and artists between the ages of 18-35.

This engaging season of exhibitions is complemented by a six-week art history course focusing on the human form in art. Taught by Barry Magrill, PhD, this course explores our fascination with ourselves by looking across the ages at art of the human form. From Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man, to portraits of Michelle Obama, to the comic books that inspired Roy Lichtenstein, and all the way back to cave paintings, this course will search for a way to make sense of why people love to look at images of the human form so deeply. Classes are held at The Reach on Thursday evenings from January 31 to March 7, from 6:30 – 8:30pm. The cost is $165 for six classes, and pre-registration is required.

The new exhibitions opening on January 24 at The Reach will show until May 5, 2019. For more details on the exhibitions and a host of connecting public programming, visit the reach.ca or drop by The Reach, 32388 Veterans Way, Abbotsford.