10 September – 6 November 2005

Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square

FUZZY explores the complex and loving relationships between people and pet animals. One of the main criteria for choosing these artists is their work's ability not only to analyze these relationships, but to leave us with clues for an investigation into ourselves as well.

For example, in Dog, Eat Dog World Toni Latour simulates the language between dogs. On seven separate screens, we see her growling, barking, panting, baring her teeth, licking at the screen and utilizing other models of dog communication to create a dialogue and a relationship between her seven examples. This act of empathetic mimicry is comparable to the way all communication is learned. Success or failure—the very foundation of understanding—is witnessed within the work.

Michael Ambedian's piece Sawdust Tree and Hamster Wheel celebrates the unpredictable nature of animals. A live hamster (Henry) on a wheel operates a kinetic sculpture with a rotating tree made from sawdust. If Henry feels like resting, then the artwork lies dormant. If Henry feels like running on his wheel, the tree spins and a complex relationship with nature is uncovered. There is pathos to the work both in Michael's relinquishing of power to Henry and his attempt to reconstruct a tree out of sawdust. Michael respects and honours the unpredictability of nature, and it is in this aspect that the soul of the work lies.

There is a clash of culture in both the Totems and the Dog Buddhas made by Cathy Cahill. In Totems, Cathy makes up to eleven-foot tall totem poles out of fake fur. This juxtaposes one culture's deeply meaningful relationship with animals and another's commercialized possession of them—the spiritually enlightening totem pole of the Native peoples with the vacant stuffed animals found in shopping malls.

Mary Catherine Newcomb also explores the symbolic nature of animals, only this time through the language of allegory and fairy tales. In Portrait of a Middle Aged Hare an enormous rabbit head whispers at you as you pass. The work contains an evocative mixture of comfort and dread. A separation is created—one is attracted to the sculpture but also repulsed by it. In a similar manner, Lewis Carroll's Alice followed the trickster rabbit down the rabbit hole. This simultaneous fascination and revulsion reveals the danger of seduction.

The expression “lovingly painted" is appropriate when considering the richly detailed and tremendously precise paintings by Yana Movchan. Yana's work often portrays cats and hamsters with fruit and various traditional still-life objects, with each hair on every hamster carefully considered before being painted. This concentration is emblematic of an emotional connection with the subject—we only truly focus on subjects of our adoration.

In Kelly Mark's Rock Star series she elevates her cat Roonie to the status of ROCK STAR—our modern Olympian. After all, if Meatloaf and Justin Timberlake can be stars, why not Roonie? When Roonie lies motionless on the couch with “War Pigs" blasting through the speakers surrounding him, this has more impact on Kelly's life than anything Bono could do. Why shouldn't Roonie star in a rock video?

This exhibition looks at our relationship with animals in a manner that is humorous, loving and FUZZY. An examination into our unique and extraordinary relationship with animals reveals as much about us as it does about animals. There is an innocence here which matches the themes perfectly—our animal friends do not look at our bonding with curiosity and detachment as we do. They simply walk parallel to us, waiting patiently for us to embrace and cherish our relationships.

Curated by Scott Sawtell

Participating artists

Michael Jacob Ambedian, Cathy Cahill, Toni Latour, Kelly Mark, Yana Movchan, Mary Catherine Newcomb