12 May 2012 – 12 Aug 2012
Katie Belcher and Ingrid Jenkner, curators
MSVU Art Gallery, Halifax, NS

The Art Gallery’s special mandate to collect textile-based art, due to the medium’s traditional association with women, is augmented in this selection by the inclusion of another material associated with domesticity—aluminum foil. All of the works have in common the tactile quality of softness.

The installation process physically demonstrated to us the multiple meanings of the word “soft.” We vigorously pushed the pliable but heavy rug against the railing to buckle it, and we also tenderly slid the fragile, feather-light foil cast off a board and onto the floor.
K. Belcher, from catalogue essay, “Introduction”

Acquired over the last decade, these works display further, unexpected affinities when seen together. Each in its own way, the works resist structural fixity—some through their soft material and others in their surrender to gravity.

Gary Markle’s Shag-Rag Rug is playfully performable as both rug and costume. Markle’s vibrant Conical Fields evokes a tactile, child-sized landscape that is both witty and menacing. Similarly childlike in its fantastical composition is Anna Torma’s Red Flowers III. In her fine collage-like needlework, Anna Torma preserves souvenirs of her family life. Gradually softening to the point of complete collapse, each exhibition of Shopping Cart 11 by Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky could be its last. Although the beads that make up Whiten’s wall hanging, There there, are made of hard, smooth glass, the piece as a whole achieves softness in myriad ways. The words themselves express an attempt to soften a situation: There there, settle down: it isn’t so hard after all.

Curatorial – Soft

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