Until March 20, Shawn Serfas: Inland, curated by Stuart Reid, will be on display for your viewing pleasure at the Rodman Hall Arts Centre.
Serfas, the artist, is an Assistant Visual Arts professor at Brock University, and has been very active in the visual arts in Ontario and out west in Alberta and British Columbia.
His interests first centered around environmental science, based on a heavy interest in the environment and landscape. However, the latter changed when he chose to instead explore his interest in the arts sector by achieving a Fine Arts and Art History degree in Saskatchewan and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Alberta.
He cites the inspiration of his newest exhibit, Inland, as coming from the fluidity and abstraction of the landscape in relation to paint. These pieces serve to further cement his identity as a landscape painter.
“The exhibit is very pluralist; it comes from many different sources,” said Serfas. “It references the landscape, humanity’s relationship to the landscape, how we sustain it, how we abuse it.”
Serfas further elaborated on what he hoped to achieve with this exhibit, discussing the, “geomorphology of the landscape and its similarity to the geomorphology of paint”, and how he views the earth and paint as one and the same.
“Paint can take on characteristics of the earth and landscape,” said Serfas. “The pigment of paint comes from the earth in most cases; the properties of paint are very fluid and dynamic —they echo. Paints fluidity is similar to aspects of the earth; how water moves, how rain reacts, how things grow. Paint has many states similar to the earth; Inland is interested in the intersections between how we shape and use the earth.”
Serfas additionally noted that Inland is also concerned with the history of painting, landscape, abstraction, and abstraction through institutions and the history of art at large.
He went on to discuss the importance of the visual arts in a university community, and how artistic expression works like a conversation.
“Artists are necessary in life,” said Serfas. “We’ve always realized how important they are, but I think over time we’ve lost that a bit. Artists are problem solvers and communicators engaged in the community. Universities are places for complete study and holistic experience; without art we aren’t looking at those expressions of community like drama and music. We need a place to experience those things; it is the heartbeat of university in many ways. You know students are there and might have a subtle interest in the arts so it’s about getting them out there and exploring. Visual art is celebratory in that people get together and have lively conversations and expressions, and look and see and use all their senses. There is a time and a place to appreciate art.”
All members of the Brock community should take time to view the Inland show (which is free to attend).
It is both interesting and inspiring to see how Serfas has translated his interest in the environment into such a visually stunning mode of expression.
When asked if he had a favorite piece in the exhibit, Serfas was quick to explain that Inland functions as one whole piece.
“I don’t have any individual favorite pieces; I like the show as a whole,” said Serfas. “The whole exhibit is meant to be viewed as one piece and one expression. It is supposed to be experienced in one movement.
You enter feeling one way and exit feeling another way. Inland is one organism. There are different parts and it will separate and go different places, but it is still one entity.”
For anyone interested in knowing more about Serfas’ work, check out his website shawnserfas.com.
Assistant Arts & Culture Editor