By Sue Tiffin
Tiffany Howe won’t be at her exhibition Salvaged Remnants at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery for the duration of the show but withdidactics on the wall showcasing her work the multidisciplinary artisttold the crowd gathered at her opening reception that the unique way inwhich her art is displayed makes her feel “like I’m here in the galleryall month having a conversation with you.”
Howe said the collection of work is about seeing the potential thatthings have about the sentiment behind found objects and randommaterials and about how artists communicate with viewers looking intothe “art world.”
Howe’s interest in following the behind-the-scenes stories of“creatives” that share their artistic process online as well as herappreciation for a gallery visitor’s potential intimidation by work left open to interpretation led to the didactics on the wall of her showhelping viewers understand both the evolution of her work and theprocess behind it.
“The exhibition is a slice in time of Howe’s day” said curatorLaurie Carmount. “Her public posts about her work leave as much of animpression as a paintbrush. Self-made videos of her creating her workconnect with the viewer and Howe offers approachable insight into herwhimsical world and encourages participation and involvement. Commentsare added to the work like applique and become intrinsic.”
At the opening a diverse crowd was taking in the exhibition inwhich Howe explores in part how people are attached to inanimateobjects while also being wasteful and how we might transform or upcycle items to avoid adding more to landfills in a time of resourcescarcity.
“I’ve always been hyper aware of the wastefulness of our society”said Howe in her artist’s statement. “For as long as I can remember it’s deeply distressed me that we have industries that produce fast fashion single-use products and planned obsolescence and the chemicalsnecessary to put out the massive amounts of these products and theenvironmental impact they have. It became an obsession to reuse anyitems in my life that were not recyclable.”
She notes that that idea has grown “to become more about reusing objects that invoke emotion in people the idea of nostalgia.”
“So lately the pieces I’m exploring are about the emotions peopleattach to inanimate objects” she said. “We go to great lengths to keepinsentient belongings with us – to travel with them preserve them make memories with them. They have no feelings and the purpose they serve is ephemeral yet we cling to them squirrel them away and love them. This behaviour has driven me to attempt to reconcile the gap betweenwastefulness and the impulse to hold onto nostalgia by keepingrecognizable elements of the original materials in my pieces.”
Howe said she has determined there are three reasons why someonemight hold on to something: for the sake of the environment preventingmore garbage; resourcefulness because of the cost of new things; andemotional attachment.
“It fascinates me” she told the engaged crowd. “Part of why I makewhat I do is because I relate to all three of these. In my materialsexplorations I’ve been investigating these ideas. It’s very personal but I also know I’m not the only one who has felt the need to keep stuff.Otherwise there wouldn’t be shows like Hoarders and [Tidying Up With] Marie Kondo .”
After the exhibition opened to the public Howe posted to Instagram when she’d had a couple of days to “let it all sink in.”
“I’m so grateful to experience the privilege of sharing my work inthis capacity” she wrote. “This exhibition communicates to the publicthe inner workings of my process my journey the motivations andthoughts behind the art.”
Howe noted that the displayed didactics mimicking her social media feed invited the public in.
“Watching people read every one of them and interact with the workitself made my heart flutter” she wrote. “Having people tell me howthis was the first time they really felt like they understood the art in a public gallery or were uplifted by my artist talk… I have no wordsfor that feeling… So it’s here now and the ideas of how to continueand grow this are racing through my brain a mile a minute.” She advisedher followers to “stay tuned.”
Salvaged Remnants can be experienced at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery until Feb. 29. For more information visit www.mindenhills.ca/agnes-