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Square Appetites / Peeling the Sticker off an Overripe Pear

Aralia Maxwell & Larry Weyland
November 29, 2020 – January 9, 2021

Workshop/Meat Draw: Sunday November 29, 1-3pm

Artist Talk: Wednesday, December 9, 7-8pm

Square Appetites examines the shapes that are celebrated in food, painting and the visual culture of the Canadian prairies. Contemplate a field, a grain elevator, a pan of puffed wheat or Nanaimo squares. Flat planes of colour and geometric grids dominate prairie landscape, architecture, and culinary traditions. This is the legacy of 20th-century immigrant settlement. Next, consider the conventions of fine art painting, wherein flat squares of canvas are uniformly spaced at eye-level on the walls of a white cube gallery. This is the legacy of 20th-century Modern Art. This exhibition draws from the settler tradition of rural Saskatchewan and the aesthetics of celebratory meals. Reflecting upon the societal appetite for particular shapes and colours, the artist imagines transformations of these familiar gustatory forms. The ultimate question is; what are the values, nutritional or otherwise, of the square?

Aralia Maxwell is a visual artist based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, Treaty 6 Territory. She holds an MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University and has exhibited at venues across Canada. Engaging primarily with acrylic paint, Maxwell explores the material possibilities of plastic to create abstract, gastronomically-derived displays. Her studio takes cues from kitchens, trading paintbrushes for culinary tools. Blending and abstracting vocabularies
of fine art and food, the results explore materiality, aesthetic taste, and question what it means to engage in a visual diet.

Peeling the Sticker off an Overripe Pear
In conversations with family members around the dinner table, little moments of stress, anxiety, panic, abuse, disagreement, anger, addiction, sadness and loss all occurred within the context of a good meal. In order to better understand how these behaviours have been passed down from generation to generation, these seemingly little moments are transformed into rugs, bearing the impact of these memories through yarn and cloth. The curiosity of these works lies in the space where narrative, psychological resilience, mat making and food intersect.

These bright, colourful, humorous and chunky mats softly and safely start conversations about mental health, intergenerational dysphoria, trauma and the act of making as a coping mechanism. As each strand of yarn is pulled through meters upon meters of burlap, one can question how repetition in cloth can break intergenerational behavioural patterns. The emotional baggage is carried through this craft of resilience, each completed rug becoming an externalized record of compassion and understanding towards my ancestors.

Larry Weyand is a performance artist and rug hooker whose work defies the established properties of traditional floor decor and domesticity. Fueled by the complex history of processed foods and emotional trauma, Larry investigates how hard-to-swallow narratives can occupy space within the soft, fluffy boundaries of textile-based craft. Having completed their MFA at Concordia University in Fibres & Material Practices, Larry is now a visiting professor in Fibres & Textiles at Memorial University’s Grenfell campus in their new home in Newfoundland. Growing up in both Montreal, Quebec and Biddeford, Maine, Larry enjoys a good road trip.

Photographer: Daniel Paquet —