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All signs point to Profiles

Sometimes you learn the most amazing things at art exhibits. For instance, the world’s largest photograph – measured at 107 feet across – was made by a pinhole camera.
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Sometimes you learn the most amazing things at art exhibits. For instance, the world’s largest photograph – measured at 107 feet across – was made by a pinhole camera.

Granted, the camera may also have been the world’s largest – it was a decommissioned U.S. Marine Corps air hangar.

But people don’t go to art galleries for Guinness records. They go to appreciate art, feel culturally enriched and learn about themselves and the world. The world, according to Profiles, is full of signs. Not just street signs either. Apparently everything touched by a human has a message.

This is the kind of exhibit that reaches down to touch the very heart of what art is all about.

Sometimes the message displayed is a purely literal one like those that Margaret Witschl has on display. Trail markers are really just painted stripes on rocks that function as old-fashioned street signs. Instead of directing traffic on roads, however, they indicate a deep forest path that has been travelled previously. According to some people who have gotten lost in the backwoods and discovered these markers, it’s like manna from heaven.

In Witschl’s words herself, it’s like a reaffirmation that you aren’t alone in the world. She refers to them as ‘old friends’ stating the experience is akin to finding “a reminder of human existence.”

Laura O’Connor takes the same route with her photos of every other kind of traffic or business sign. After that though, it gets a bit more complex.

“This show is a big onion,” admitted Heidi Alther, the gallery’s director.

Alexis Robb’s art features pages from fashion magazines that she has stitched over with her own words and commentary. Wenda Salomons used her own pinhole camera to create some ghostly double exposure images of houses and other structures. The shadows upon shadows make for some abstract art that is hard to pull yourself away from.

Paul Murasko’s photos are more sly and ironic. They capture real places that include their own hidden messages from obvious sources. An office sign hangs over a dilapidated former work area. An empty apartment sits lonely except for the word ‘Trust’ hanging sideways off of a wall. We’re meant to make of these what we will but the fact that he finds them instead of stages them is awesome enough.

Apart from having the opportunity to appreciate some fine art, Profiles is once again offering its interactive hands-on resource display area. Visitors can play with a pinhole camera or a hand-sized stitcher.

Alther said it’s an important and increasingly useful feature because the whole idea of a public gallery is to offer different ways for regular people to learn and understand art.

Another tie-in with the show’s theme is in this area too. This shelf is so beautiful in and of itself, that I thought it was part of the show. If it weren’t for the sign indicating that visitors are meant to touch it, it might have gone unused.

Signs

By artists Paul Murasko, Laura O'Connor, Alexis Robb, Wenda Salomons and Margaret Witschl
Exhibit runs until June 27, 2009
Profiles Public Art Gallery
19 Perron Street
780-460-4310
www.artsheritage.ca/gallery


Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns, and profiles on people.
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