FACE TO FACE
Sept.1st, 2021 - Oct. 15th 2021
An installation of 48 paintings and 5 hand-pulled prints
Sissiboo Coffee Roaster & Gallery, Bear River, N.S.
FACE to FACE
Artist - Eva McCauley
Face to Face is an installation of 48 mixed media paintings of Canadian youth spanning a period of over 150 years.
Sixteen of the images are contemporary oil portraits of University of Waterloo students, and rest are images inspired by historical photographs from the past which have been reimagined using layers of oil paint, gouache, encaustic (melted beeswax) and photo transfers.
The original installation was created in 2017, 150 years after confederation, to reflect Canada’s continuing human diversity to provoke questions and to invite positive dialogue about Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations. In 2021, I added 5 new paintings to the installation. For me, it continues to have immediate relevance.
Reactions to the Canada 150 celebrations were mixed in Canada. Some felt it was a celebration of Indigenous cultural genocide and this reaction prompted debate and dialogue about the treatment of Indigenous peoples during Canada’s colonial past and present. My hope is that this installation evokes an honest and complex narrative of European colonization that rejects 1867 as a useful historical starting point, that acknowledges the trauma and injustice experienced by Indigenous peoples and that argues against stereotypes in our depictions of the past.
The 48 paintings in the installation form a loosely constructed non-linear narrative that combines the historical mixed media images with 16 contemporary portraits. Historical photographs were found in the collections of Library & Archives Canada and the City of Waterloo Archives. Several are from the work of Jacob Gaukel Stroh, a Waterloo historian and archeologist of German descent, and were taken in the Kitchener-Waterloo region of Ontario from the late 1800s to the 1930s.
The images inspired by the historical photographs have been juxtaposed and arranged to create an ambiguous narrative that can be interpreted in different ways, with the intention of inviting reflection and dialogue. This construction questions the idea of photography as an accurate record of history and reality, and the influence it can have on memory, which is a mutable thing at the best of times. Oil paint and beeswax on the surface of the images further blur distinction and distance the viewer from the images, encouraging shifting interpretations of the elements depicted in each. The reviewer is invited to reflect on the effect of photography on our collective memory and on our interpretation and understanding of historical events.
My inclusion of the images of Indigenous youth in this series of paintings (many of them taking place within residential schools) is a gesture of respect and recognition with the intention of honouring them as Canada’s original inhabitants, acknowledging the genocide and trauma that they have been subjected to through the process of "colonization", and supporting the process of rebuilding and reclaiming what was lost. This unfortunate and tragic historical legacy has had, and continues to have, a profound effect on the quality of life of Indigenous people.
The 16 contemporary portraits are oil paintings of my students in the Fine Art Department at the University of Waterloo, whose ethnic and cultural roots are varied. Over the years, I have been struck by the increasing ethnic diversity amongst my students, as well as by their generosity of spirit and openness. I am grateful for their inspiration and collaboration in this project.
I am grateful to the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund for supporting “The Face to Face Project”.
Oct. 16 - November 31st, 2021
Sissiboo Coffee Roaster & Gallery, Annapolis Royal, N.S.
An exhibition of oil paintings at
Annapolis Royal, N.S.
April 24 – July 31st
Opening: Saturday April 24th
Catalogue is available to accompany the exhibition.
I will be giving an artist talk in the main gallery on Sat. July 31st at 2 p.m.
and you are welcome to attend!
(Numbers of attendees restricted due to COVID guidelines--please pre-register to reserve your place).
Hope to see you!