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The FOFA Gallery Undergraduate Student Exhibition is on now — in person

The Sum of Our Shared Selves is a collaborative show presenting artworks across disciplines
February 16, 2022
Image of an exhibition space.
Main Space, clockwise: Rafa Santos, Basement Altar (Altar to Belie Belcan and Anaisa Pye), 2018; Laura Kamugisha, Mitochondrial, 2019; Mallory Lowe Mpoka, I Am a Story, 2020-ongoing; Dana Ryashy, HERE, 2020; Joyce Joumaa, Final Notes on Touch, 2021. | All photos by Guy L'Heureux

After last year’s online edition, the 2022 Undergraduate Student Exhibition returned to Concordia’s FOFA Gallery. The annual show opened in the gallery space on January 24 and runs until February 25.

Not knowing how the COVID-19 pandemic would evolve this winter, and to extend the visibility of the project, the exhibition team also decided to present some online work through artist interviews on their website, artist Instagram takeovers and artist playlists. The full online program is accessible from the gallery’s Linktree page.

‘An immense collaborative effort’

Geneviève Wallen (BFA 12) is the FOFA Gallery’s current exhibition coordinator. “I had never worked on such a large-scale project,” she says. “It’s unique to work with as many as 14 artists, 14 paired writers, a guest editor and a small team of designers, while deploying an online activation and overseeing the publication of such a detailed catalogue.”

Every year, the exhibition combines works by undergraduate art students that range in mediums, including ceramic, video installation, drawing, photography and textile. It also includes student essays for the exhibition catalogue and performances based on the displayed works and their creative processes by students enrolled in the Creative Process III course.

“It’s extremely enriching to share what my work means to me and then to read a writer’s interpretation of it. It allows me to better present and understand it later,” says Alice Zerini-Le Reste, a ceramics BFA student who is part of the exhibition.

Image of ceramic art pieces.
York Vitrines : Alice Zerini-Le Reste, Les îcones, 2020-2021.

Yann Pignard is the studio arts BFA student who wrote the essay “Traces of Unfathomable Places” about Zerini-Le Reste’s ceramic works Les icônes. He says the experience was different than the more traditional art writing he is used to.

“When the chemistry is good between the paired students it allows you to avoid solely rational descriptions and bring out the poetry of the artist’s work.”

Zerini-Le Reste also says she was impressed by the sensibility and openness of the dance students who worked with the artists. Students in the contemporary dance class Creative Process II, taught by instructor Florence Figols (BFA 85), will hopefully present their performances and processes in the gallery later this month, COVID-19 restrictions allowing.

Jasmine Sihra, a master’s student in art history, assisted Wallen in coordinating the exhibition — and says meeting the dancers was her favourite part.

“They were all eager to learn and integrate the physicality of the works and the space, especially as it became a way to escape this period of isolation.”

Both Sihra and Wallen emphasize the uniqueness of the multidisciplinary aspect of this exhibition, especially in an undergraduate university context.

“But the cross-departmental and multidisciplinary work doesn’t stop there,” Wallen adds. She points out that, for instance, the Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History team facilitated the recruitment of student writers.

And the artists were chosen in collaboration with the VAV Gallery and previous FOFA Gallery director, Eunice Bélidor(BFA 12), curator of Quebec and Canadian contemporary art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “It’s an immense collaborative effort.”

Image of a photo of a tv screen with two people shaking hands.
Joyce Joumaa, Final Notes on Touch, 2021.

‘Positioning the self as part of an interdependent relationship with the landscape(s)’

Wallen says the exhibition presents thematic similarities with last year’s. In both cases, “The artists’ investigations departed from the outside (world) and went within,” she notes, adding that the works revealed intimate details on the artists’ lives and processes.

Joyce Joumaa, another artist taking part of the exhibition, says she finds the title very poetic and, most of all, representative of the state of the world right now.

“As individuals, we are increasingly forced to engage in the collective, in societal dualities, like vaccinated/non-vaccinated, for instance. And we have to assume the consequences of that cohabitation,” she says.

Joumaa even extended this thinking to her own work, a framed print on fabric that reflects on the meaning of touch in the context of the pandemic. This illustrates Wallen’s view that the exhibition also interrogates how it “positions the self as part of a myriad of interdependent relationships shaped by our environments.”

Inspiration for the return to campus

“I’m particularly happy that my works are shown in the York Vitrines of the EV Building,” says Zerini-Le Reste, for whom the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex has a special meaning in her own journey as a student.

“Throughout my degree, I would leave my classes and I would see really inspiring artworks in the hall of the FOFA. I’m very happy to have the chance to be there now; it ends my time at Concordia really well.”

Find out more about Concordia’s 2022 FOFA Undergraduate Student Exhibition,
The Sum of Our Shared Selves.

And visit the FOFA Gallery’s Linktree page for more of the online components of the project.



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