Originally published April 2, 2007 in The Varsity
Climbing three flights of stairs in the Burroughes Building at Queen and Bathurst St. last Friday to get to U of T’s student art show Three Stories Up, the significance of the title was not lost on me. Put on by the visual studies class of 2007 and featuring three separate works by each of the 17 art students, the show is the culmination of months of hard work.
Entering the large space, the impressively packed room was charged with excitement. The class toured several spaces and art galleries before choosing the old building for their exhibit. Going with the third-floor space meant harsh manual labour for the artists, who had to renovate the gallery for their show.
“We had a limited budget, so we had to work with what we had,” explained Sana Shiraz.
Their hard work shows: the space thrummed with a raw quality, its high ceilings and atmospheric lighting giving it a warehouse feel. The students were pleased as well.
“Our teamwork paid off and all the work we did was definitely worth it,” exclaimed student Carmine Rotundo.
From installations to paintings to video montages, Three Stories Up featured a wide range of media. For example, Nadia D’Agnone displayed a piece featuring pictures of street scenes with all the human figures blacked out, and then projected the images on screen.
“I want to show how hard it is for people to communicate with one another,” she said. “My work tries to deconstruct encounters in everyday life.”
Initially, a piece called Observer and Observed seemed to be just photographs of people’s faces. In fact, they were handmade sketches. Artist Miranda Blazey explained that, “whenever we talk to one another, we are always judgmental because we observe and scrutinize each other’s faces.” Blazey explained that she focused on her subjects’ eyes in her sketches, hoping to make the pieces confrontational.
Azza Abbaro’s painting managed to incite some laughs from attendees. She had painted a classical reclining nude female, with the caption, “Post-modern enough for you?” scrawled across it.
“Although my professors weren’t too fond of the work, the painting’s meant to be aggressive and ironic,” Abbaro contended.
Also interesting was Shiraz’s East meets West. Fashioning a skimpy thong out of traditional Eastern fabrics with intricate embroidery, Shiraz commented on the tensions between Western style and cultures from elsewhere.
“I’m interested in exploring dichotomies between the traditional and modern, male and female,” Shiraz said.
Definitely a labour of love, Three Stories Up is best summarized in its exhibit catalogue: “The show is a testimony to the potential of both raw space and young talent.” Be on the lookout for what raw artists these serve up next.
Three Stories Up runs until April 5 between the hours of 12:00-5:00 p.m. at the Burroughes Building, third Floor, 639-647 Queen St. W. Admission is free.
Participating artists: Azza Abbaro, Miranda Blazey, Kat Boake, Nadia
D’Agnone, Melissa DiMatteo, Magdalene Garda, Enya Hou, Jinju, Donna Lee, Petrina Ng, Shannon Phair, Megan Rooney, Carmine Rotundo, Sana Shiraz, Kaitlin Till-Landry, Lindsay Ulrich, Zane Ziemele.