Maïder Fortuné at Archive (883 Queen West) to October 4. 416-703-6564. Rating: NNNN MOTHERLODE at WARC (401 Richmond West) to October 4. 416-977-0097. Rating: NNN Art 4 at Dundas Square (Yonge and Dundas), Sunday, September 7. 416-203-6740. Rating: NNN
In many ways it can be difficult to be a child. For other reasons it can be hard being a mother. Motherlode, a show at the Women's Art Resource Centre , explores motherhood through the work of several artists who have had to balance raising children with nurturing a career in the arts.
It can be very difficult to do both. The general perception is that when you have a child your work suffers, presumably because you spend more time hanging their drawings than your own. By making motherhood the theme, the artwork in the show says otherwise. The pieces here explore the bond between mother and child, often with powerful and emotional results.
The highlight is the ever-impressive work of Janieta Eyre , in which motherhood becomes a state of mutation. In one photograph, a six-breasted Eyre stands near a carriage that bears a pig-like child. In another picture, Siamese twins, painted black, with shared limbs supporting them, stand with shirts slightly parted, revealing their bellies. The works allude to both the darker and lighter sides of the mother-child relationship.
Nicole Collins 's main work in the show consists of a long wax piece featuring a child's scrawled expression of love. It's almost as though Collins allows the work to flow through her child and into her before giving it to a medium.
Rae Johnson 's paintings include two portraits and a large canvas featuring a baby swathed in a field of red hovering just below a pair of crossed hands. The works, while technically strong, lack some of the emotion of the other pieces in the show.
Lyla Rye , whose work here stars her child - in contrast to many artists who spend a lot of time obsessing about themselves - has shot a video and displayed it behind a magnifying glass. The piece places the actions of her daughter Lena in an almost uncomfortable spotlight, giving the viewer the feeling of invading an intimate everyday moment.
Pearl Van Geest creates armour for her child with lipstick kisses. Her strongest work is a simple photocopy of a child's face bearing a lipstick kiss on the lips.
Archive is hanging a somewhat sparse show by French artist Maïder Fortuné that explores the fear residing in every parent's heart - that some harm may befall one's child.
Three large-format photographs hang in the gallery, each featuring two small girls in dresses playing on a bed near a chandelier in a room with sad, green walls. In one, the fair girl stands on the back of the other, treating her like a doll. In the other pictures the fair girl lies on a pillow smothering the other beneath the billowing whiteness.
Titled Playing Dead, the body of work is taut and full of trepidation.
After night creeps out of Trinity Bellwoods Park and surrounds the gallery, a video loop plays on a screen in the window. Passersby see a black-and-white close-up of a girl skipping, her face moving up and down in fits and starts, leaving traces that create the effect of an eerie totem pole. The blue light from the projector seems to bisect her head.
Art is rooted in life, and for many children fear and suffering are a reality. Last Sunday, galleryBIBIANNE organized Art 4, a gathering of artists, with proceeds going towards the Children's Aid Society. The artists were assembled like a bunch of ragtag skateboarders on the cement surface of that architectural hiccup known as Yonge-Dundas Square.
The work was uneven, and tended toward forgettable abstracts or landscapes, but there was plenty of heart and standout pieces such as the out-of-focus landscapes of Laura Wood and the beat-up furniture paintings of Karin Rabuka .
And art is always more appealing when it helps a child live a life that's a little less difficult.