A Most Urgent Concern

Curated by Heather Doerksen

Chika Udok, Kristine Zingeler, Heather Buchanan, Michael Abel, Andy Van Dinh and Evan Smibert

February 11 to March 12 2011

A Most Urgent Concern is the fourth iteration of The New Gallery’s unique student curatorial initiative project.

Senior ACAD student Hannah Doerksen has curated a group show of new work by students from the University of Calgary’s Department of Art program exploring the often complex relationship between humour and tragedy.


A Most Urgent Concern is this year’s installment of The New Gallery’s Student Curatorial Internship project. The current group show is comprised of new work from six artists, three women and three men, currently studying at the University of Calgary’s Department of Art. Focusing on opposites and binary connections, this diverse collection of sculpture, painting and drawing celebrates silliness and seriousness in an attempt to make sense of our world. With content and imagery ranging from animals and detached body parts, the Virgin Mary and garbage bags, to consumerism and art history, this group show aims to compliment and contradict.

Taking a critical look at the human condition this show balances small and large, heavy and light, funny and abject. Hanging from the walls and ceiling the work surrounds the viewer while implicating content beyond itself and the confines of the gallery. Paintings from Kristine Zingeler’s Facial Manipulation series and Michael Abel’s Smile stare at each other and back at you. Speaking to internal feelings of emotional confusion, the painted faces gaze at the viewer, the surrounding art, and seemingly back into themselves, unsure of their emotional state but clearly far from enthusiastic. Heather Buchanan and Evan Smibert’s work use art historical references to make light of questions and insecurities surrounding universal and personal issues of sexuality. Chika Udok’s piece Isi Aka (Braided Hair) and Andy Van Dinh’s 7-11s suggest a loss of cultural practices and a collective memory in societies which have a growing tendency to stifle originality and individuality in order to make room for cookie cutter mass produced buildings, products and behaviors. The sometimes comic and sometimes profound nature of these works aims to create a comfortable space in which difficult subject matter is accessible.

As a group of artists on the brink of graduation we are faced with the task of squishing our way into the established art community, not to mention the weight of depleting oil resources, fresh water shortages, bed bugs, Canadian winters, Calgary transit, inequality, cancer, depression, OCD, increasing costs of food, rent, alcohol and cigarettes and on and on – in these ways the world around us is serious. This exhibition takes advantage of a growing freedom and appreciation for making work that has a sense of humour and through this strategy illuminates the concerns and interests of the newest generation of emerging artists in the city of Calgary. Thus: A Most Urgent Concern – may uneasy laughter abound!

- Hannah Doerksen, curator