Perspectives of Innocence

March 28 to June 6, 2010




Click here for the exhibition brochure.


Susan Low-Beer: State of Grace

Susan Low-Beer’s interpretive clay sculptures of young children capture the buoyancy, movement, and lightness of innocent joyful exuberance. Yet, they are suspended in mid-air  – oscillating somewhere between jumping and landing – and time seems no longer relevant. They are in their own world of play and imagination, and their enigmatic expressions reinforce our inability to access their world – a dream world of childhood before rationality has managed to take root. Low-Beer’s intentional ambiguity about specifics such as race and gender adds much mystery, depth, and meaning.

Accompanying the installation are five other works from Low-Beer’s Force of the Moon’s Shell series. What began as a formal exploration of the circle, symmetry, texture, and transparency, evolved into a narrative revealing mysteries of the night moon.

Susan Low-Beer is one of Canada’s most important ceramic sculptors. Her work has been exhibited for over 30 years in public and private galleries in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Asia. In 1999, she won the renowned Saidye Bronfman Award for Craft, and in 2000, she was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Art. Her work is represented in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, The National Museum of Modern Art in Japan, The Mint Museum of Craft and Design, the Burlington Art Centre, and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, as well the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery and numerous private collections.

Click here to read an excerpt from Figuration: Susan Low-Beer by Julie Oakes (from the exhibition catalogue by Headbones Gallery, 2009).

Click here to read exhibition coverage by The Record.


Michèle Karch-Ackerman: Foundling

Michèle Karch-Ackerman’s work explores, reflects on, and monumentalizes historic and contemporary events and their aftermath as she honours and poetically re-enacts collective memories and loss. The artist works with ‘domestic acts of love’ such as knitting, sewing, quilting, and other art forms that have traditionally been relegated to the realm of ‘women’s art’ or craft, she “stitches meditations on loss.” Foundling honours the lives of unwed mothers and the babies they were asked to give up.  Inspired by her grandmother’s experience – herself an unwed mother staying at the Misericordia Home in the 1920s, the exhibition sheds light on a secret chapter in Canadian history. Foundling is an acknowledgement and prayer for those young mothers, their babies, and their sorrows.

Michèle Karch-Ackerman draws upon her own experiences and her family history to bring us this installation. In this exhibition, she shifts her focus from young children to young unmarried women who, after becoming pregnant, found themselves seeking help from places like Misericordia, an institution originally established as a home for unwed mothers. This exhibition centres around the difficult decisions and societal pressures faced by women who found themselves in such a position. Karch-Ackerman uses textiles found in these homes to create clothing for infants as a way to relieve some of the shame felt by women who lived there, and draw us into the largely neglected world unwed mothers in Canada during the 20th century.

Foundling draws upon her own family’s story while set against a backdrop of more recent history of women who, when faced with an unexpected pregnancy, found solace and help through the Misericordia Homes.

Michèle Karch-Ackerman is a nationally recognized contemporary artist whose installations have been featured in public galleries across Canada. With influences drawn from history, literature, and experience, her works have inspired viewers with challenging subject matter.  Foundling will continue to tour to the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, The Grimsby Public Gallery, The Art Gallery of Peterborough, and The Tom Thomson Gallery where it will be featured as part of a retrospective of the artist’s work in 2012.

Biography: Michèle Karch-Ackerman grew up in Newmarket, Ontario, graduated from the University of Montreal in 1983 and then went on to graduate from the Experimental Arts Department at the Ontario College of Art in 1985. Her work is well known throughout Canada and has been exhibited all over the country, from New Brunswick to British Columbia, and the Yukon. She has also been the recipient of several awards from the Ontario Arts Council, Visual Arts Ontario, and the Canada Council for the Arts. As well as being an accomplished artist, Karch-Ackerman has also shared her artistic abilities through teaching at various places, including the Royal Ontario Museum, Trent University, and Loyalist College, among others.

Originally trained as a painter, Karch-Ackerman switched disciplines after the birth of her children. According to her, knitting and sewing fit more easily into her new life than painting did, and as such opened up a whole new world of artistic possibilities. In her work, Karch-Ackerman uses universal themes combined with specific events to link past and present, often to provide comfort for the dead as well as the living. She has summed up her own art practice as “making clothing for dead children” because she makes them as objects that are utilitarian but that can never be used. Her work is often made with textiles and tangible objects that relate to the theme of an exhibition, effectively creating conceptual art using things that may otherwise be considered craft or, “the domestic acts of love,” rather than fine art. Karch-Ackerman focuses on subjects that are difficult to talk about and, as a result, are often neglected or completely ignored. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of these issues, she seeks to transform grief and despair into something positive.

Tea was served daily at 2:00 PM in honour of the young unwed mothers and their experiences in rescue homes. Each teacup that is used for tea will be turned over in the teacup installation to acknowledge their profound loss.

Click here to read Nowhere Else to Go – Homes for Unwed Mothers in Canada during the 20th Century by Nancy Schnarr.



Cristian Raduta: Rhinos

Romania is in a transitional period after 50 years of communism and its aftermath. Young artists are finding their voices by combining their individual views and experiences with the social and political environment and transferring these back into their work. Against this backdrop, Romanian artist Cristian Raduta likes to analyze the process of metamorphosis of widely-recognized forms into new esthetical dimensions. He is fascinated by what he terms “the confrontation of the bestiary” (a bestiary is a compendium of beasts made popular during the Middle Ages). His rhino sculptures hover over the realms of fables and myths, existing between their world and ours. Although whimsical and somewhat fantastical yet seemingly timeless, they remain well-grounded and solid. They are Old World beasts that evoke earlier days when noble quests and mythological kingdoms informed rational thought.

Born in 1982, Raduta participated in 2005 Summer Academy in Salzburg, spent two years at the Romanian Academy in Rome, and received his MFA from the National University of Art in Bucharest in 2007. Some of his works are in the collection of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest and his exhibition credits include Transmissionen at the Kunstacademy in Stuttgart, Remelt at the Portuguese Art Academy in Rome, and the 2008 Carnival Exhibition in the Italian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale.

The Canadian Clay & Glass gratefully acknowledges the 418 Contemporary Art Gallery from Bucharest who made the loan of these works possible.