By Sue Tiffin
Published Feb. 8 2018
It’s a unique opportunity not to be missed – the chance to hear from three emerging artists living in Haliburton County who shine a light on their thought processes methods and the challenges of becoming professional artists in today’s world.
Initial an exhibition focusing on the work of Shannon Schutt Scott Walling and Daniel Wright opened at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery this past Jan. 16 and will close Feb. 24 but not before a curatorial talk and artists panel discussion on Feb. 10.
Since 2013 Schutt has created in and experimented with a variety of mediums including graphite wax steel and copper.
“The methods are based on exploring memory and feeling while still enjoying experimenting with mediums including coloured pencils acrylic paint and alcohol markers” she wrote in her artist statement. “My work is a constant battle of realism vs. Impressionism with the outcome being one of experimentation and constant rejuvenation.”
Daniel Wright works in metalwork and is exploring the idea of casting metals. “Sometimes it is just the process of making damascus steel that draws me regardless of what it gets turned into in the end or the desire to chisel in every cell on a leaf for hours” reads his artist statement. “I have noticed a feeling in myself that when it arises I can allow it to take over and the outcome is almost always positive without the need for drawings or planning I just know exactly what I need to do and I go with it.”
Schutt and Wright came to Haliburton to attend Fleming’s Haliburton School of Art and Design and after about three years here are working together to set up a jewelry and casting studio in Haliburton.
Scott Walling who many know from the Centre for Making at Fleming HSAD has 12 or so pieces exhibited in Initial. “Working with a variety of mediums and process a unifying theme of texture is present throughout my work” he said in his artist statement. “Moving away from strictly digital photography I practice printmaking film photography and digital collage. I like using contrast to create moments in light.”
Bark Woodblock Litho Pr
Visitors to the panel discussion will hear about what it takes to be an artist nowadays.
“[It’s] a lot of hard work to be honest” said Walling. “You have to be determined in producing things. You can’t just kind of make one thing and fly off of that for however long. You have to be producing changing your work adapting and finding different ways to do things keeping within your artistic process.”
“Above anything else it’s the drive to actually do that will make or break someone early in a career” said Wright. “Connections and a pinch of talent go a long way but if you’re not driven then it’s very difficult to lift yourself up enough to fly.”
Use of technology in today’s society can make it easier for emerging artists to share work but because of the sheer amount of images out there it can also be harder to stand out and be seen.
“Before there was no internet so you couldn’t just post your stuff and have it be shared around” said Walling. “It’s harder to get noticed now because there are so many people putting their work out and up there it’s harder to filter through all that. There’s these pros and cons to both of these things where the market is saturated.”
Photography is a prime example of that according to Walling who said it looks different now that cameras are so accessible. Whereas in the past artists have put more effort and financial commitment into schooling that world has opened up to anyone who buys the same level of camera and heads out to just do it.
“Becoming an artist changes day to day” said Wright. “It’s easier to see the changes looking to the past because it’s already laid out and easier to trace and follow events and development. Today it’s almost commonplace to see some newcomer with a simple but catchy idea and an iPhone video suddenly be catapulted into the spotlight on any one of the social media platforms. The mentality of ‘you must learn from a master’ and actively seek them out and beg to learn is pretty much gone but was commonplace less than 100 years ago.”
“I think the more original you can be in your work the better off you will be” said Schutt. “It’s really important to try and be as inventive as possible.”
“You definitely have to find a process or some sort of aesthetic that is different from others but still recognizable comforting to look at” said Walling. “Like you’re not totally blown out of the water by it like seeing something completely new and different but still being noticed from the crowd.”
Initial offers patrons the chance to get a sort of behind-the-scenes look at the process behind the work with sketchbooks and videos chronicling the creation of the artwork on display next to some of the artists finished products. For example Walling has included contact sheets to show which shots he didn’t use.
“That’s a nice little bit we all kind of enjoy about it because it’s hard to get around your whole process when you just see the finished piece” he said. “You feel a little more connected to the artist because you can actually see them working or see their process in front of you.”
“I think that with the less common art forms it’s a beneficial practice” said Schutt. “Most people know what it is to paint but very few know what it’s like to form something out of metal.”
As the exhibition comes to a close the artists are excited and ready to be engaged in the talk being held at the gallery.
“I’m looking forward to starting a dialogue about the struggles emerging artists face and also educating people about what it actually means to be an artist” said Schutt.
Despite the success of the exhibition Walling said the work doesn’t stop and is anticipating further inspiration as a result of the upcoming discussion.
“When I’m talking about the work I might choose a different word and that will spark something else that I have been thinking about and bring that into it as well and then I can go home and go OK I thought of this and this how do I bring that to that” said Walling. “Or when I listen to other artists talk about their work if something resonates with me I’m able to work off that later as well. So I’m kind of always pulling ideas together.”
A curatorial talk and artists panel discussion will be held on Saturday Feb. 10 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery at 176 Bobcaygeon Road in Minden.