The way artists operate is so beautiful yet so strange. They hear the same theme and paint it in different strokes than the last, sing it in different keys and capture it with different angles. This semester, the Brock Art Collective put together a showing reminiscent of this very concept – “Fortune Favours,” a juried exhibition of work that took place on March 1. As your eyes wander from one piece of art to the next, no clear, underlying message seems to link any of them together, let alone all of them. Yet, there was one — “fortune favours the bold” — and it was up to the artists to interpret it for themselves. I had the pleasure of talking to some of the artists featured in the show with the question on my mind of how each individual could see things so vastly unique from the rest.
Of the pieces I saw, the clear standout was “Frayed Nerves” by third-year Visual Arts student Rachel McCartney, featuring fiery shocks of red and orange spread across plain black with a moving quality.
“I wanted to poke at the nervous system in my viewers,” explained McCartney when asked about what inspired her work. “When looking at the work the audience notices that it’s an interesting visual and that there is something a little off about the subject matter, hence the title “Frayed Nerves”. The off-kilter feeling that the viewer receives is validated when they lastly notice that the work was made with human hair.”
The end result of McCartney arranging hair samples in a scanner was a strikingly beautiful approach to art that I hadn’t seen before — but, when she explained the inspiration behind it, it made perfect sense. It was my viewing of McCartney’s work where the theme came together for me. “Frayed Nerves” was beautifully bold, but it wasn’t the only piece living up to the show’s common thread.
Third-year Studio Art major Jess McClelland certainly took a bold approach by offering a brand new take on Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam and his reasoning behind it showed the same fearlessness in taking on such a grand piece. Two adorable cartoons which, upon a closer look, are characterized by deliberate, pointed linework and raw talent make up McClelland’s The Creation of Ethan. McClelland described the piece as a commentary on high and low art, despite its playful appearance. When I asked where the theme of the show fit in with his work, McClelland’s explanation made The Creation of Ethan feel perfectly at home.
“Cartoons are definitely more lowbrow in the art world and to have cartoons clash with the imagery of the behemoth Michelangelo, is I find, a bold statement in itself,” said McClelland. “I feel that if I’m going to make art, it’s going to be on my terms.”
It was a sentiment echoed again and again no matter how many artists I spoke to.
Third-year Visual Artist student Kaitlyn Roberts collected fingerprints from artists for the creation of Community, a piece first created in 2017, which she described as an experiment that brought all of Brock’s artists together, as though it was done by everyone who contributed a fingerprint. Roberts summed up her personal relation to the theme with a statement that could’ve been a selling point for the entire showcase. “In this case, fortune favoured the bold because I went for what I wanted to create. No matter how terrifying it was to ask people for their identity, and it turned out successful for me,” explained Roberts.
“Fortune Favours” lent way to a whole new perception of art in the Brock community. The artists who brought the showcase to life had pieces as unique as the fingerprints that went into Roberts’ Community. From multi-painting installations to simple, one-take photographs, each work involved in the show was daring in a way distinctive to the artist — and, as a result, in comparison with the rest, each one was held together by its own eccentric beauty.