TRU @ The Old Courthouse

Grad artwork brings Arnica gallery to life with murals, mutation and hybrid culture

Transformative creatures and transitional cultures merge in an Arnica Artist Run Centre art exhibition opening tonight at the Old Courthouse Cultural Centre.

Culture/Transformation includes sculpture, painting, mural, drawing and video works culled from the recent TRU bachelor of fine arts grad show.

"Arnica has made a decision to show on a regular basis some of the work from the grad shows," said Linda Jules, a member of the society.

The society's mandate includes support for emerging artists and its gallery has presented both student and graduate work in the past.

"We think it's a really good connection to make," Jules said. "It's happened before but we're formalizing it now."

Part of the challenge is to distill an expansive and multi-faceted exhibition - which occupied much of the university's visual arts department - into one a fraction the size but with a cohesive theme.

Curators Shima Iuchi, Jennifer Ste. Marie and Craig Willms selected works by five artists: Erin Batty, Ben Eastabrook, Melaina Todd, Bobby Wang and Bo Yeung. The common denominator: Environmental transformation and hybrid culture.

Eastabrook's mutated reptilian creature, sculpted from Styrofoam, practically jumps out at visitors.

"He's a hybrid creature I created in my post-human environment," he said, referring to his main body of work. "These hybrid creatures have had to adapt to the waste we left behind."

His assemblage of waste moves on its own next to "crocodilian filidia."

"I call him Crocs for short." He's pink from eating pink insulation. "They become what they eat."

Batty's depiction in acrylic on canvas of medical oddities are both intriguing and grotesque, Eastabrook noted. Hyper-realistic portraits in oil on canvas reflect Bobby Wang's signature painting style.

Yeung's video is a component of a larger installation she did for the TRU show, a quilted house erected in the atrium of Old Main Building that represented her village home in China. In the video, she presents a Chinese perspective on Kamloops, exploring cultural connections here.

Todd's mural installation lends a heartwarming dimension to the show even if that's not her intent with these giant dogs. The images have a cathartic value for her and symbolize her mental state.

"When people see it on the wall, they think, 'Oh, it's a cute puppy." It's not the idea, but people respond to it that way.

"I used the dogs as metaphor for human culture," she explained. "Throughout history, dogs have been helping people. I'm kind of a watcher of humankind."

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