Humbly HeroicMay 13, 2022
She’s Here TooMay 13, 2022
Exhibition runs May 20th – July 17, 2022
Opening Reception May 20th 7-9pm @Yuill Family Gallery
This exhibition is part of the 2022 Medalta International Artists in Residence program.
I often look at my work through the framework of colonialism as an attempt to understand myself and our contemporary society. My aim is to help heal the wounds from the past and produce personal and social awareness. I do this by exploring connections between symbols and historical events stored in the collective memory. My understanding of the creative process
makes me explore utility, artistic expression and multiple ceramic techniques in the objects I make. I share my cultural heritage through references to traditional Mexican patterns, techniques, materials and colours.
In this exhibition I am studying an irregular geometrical form by using objects made with a semi-industrialized production process. Additionally, I am performing in situ to enter into dialogue with the history of Medalta’s production workers. During the making and performing, I am reflecting on my relationship to economic forces that have and continue to shape my life. Though I think this struggle is not unique to me. These economic constraints often strangle my studio pursuits and I find myself making other people’s work just to get by. Perhaps the best way to share my struggle as an artist is to act it out in the gallery space in hopes of inspiring change.
I am using porcelain not only due to its particular properties of whiteness, smoothness and translucency, but mainly because porcelain was a popular export product of transpacific trade from China to Philippines and onto Mexico due to colonialism during the 18th Century. Potters in Puebla and Mexico City used local low temperature clays and tin glaze to emulate porcelain like in many other parts of the world. They developed their own “blue and white” patterns. For me, the use of porcelain is a way of engaging with this colonial history while reflecting on my present. “Azul colonial” is a particular shade of blue used in many colonial buildings all over Mexico, and in the neighbourhood I used to live in before coming to Canada. The colour scheme is often used in combination with white walls, and red bricks.
I am interested in observing an object from different angles. I am fascinated by the infinite possibilities of formal qualities in a single object such as form, colour, light, shadow, and pattern. My intention with this new body of work is to have the viewer consider how the historical legacy of colonialism lives on today and how it continues shaping our lives by deliberately ignoring subordinated points of view.
Originally from Mexico City, Toronto-based artist and pottery instructor Gracia Isabel, is an honours Sheridan College’s Crafts and Design Ceramics graduate. She explores themes related to colonialism and migration through functional and sculptural pieces. A few of her exhibiting highlights include: the Gardiner Museum, Sin Fronteras Monarch Butterfly Project (2019), Craft Ontario Gallery, The Body has Reasons which Reason Knows Not Of, 2019, the Embassy of Canada in Hungary, Muscle Memory Exhibit, 2018. She won the TOAE Best of Sculpture award in 2016. In 2020 she started CLAY Voices Symposium on Instagram, a yearly community building gathering of ceramics artists across Canada. The 3 rd edition was live-streamed last April. Gracia Isabel is currently developing a new body of work as a year-long artist in residence at Medalta Artists in Residence Program.