The Recipe for Soup’Art: A Review

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The Recipe for Soup’Art

by Cindy Lapeña

What do you get when you serve nine different kinds of soup and a variety of visual art pieces at The Mack? You get Soup’Art!

No, it’s not a joke. The Societe Saint-Thomas-D’Aquin and Confederation Centre of the Arts were completely serious when they sent out invitations to a novel art exhibit where, instead of picking at trays of traditional cocktail fare, viewers were presented with nine varieties of soup, from the traditional vegetable soup to the exotic Kenyan soup and the innovative sweet potato and coconut milk soup. It was an adventure and in itself, with the soup ladled into coffee cups that were just the right size to get a good taste of the soup without being filled so that you had no room to try the other varieties. It was soup sampling extraordinaire created by innovative and skilled soup artists.

That was not the only part of this twin-event. Along with the soup buffet was an exhibit of works by francophone artists. On display were works by Norah Pendergast, Faysal Boukari, Noella Richard, and Alma MacDougall, including paintings, photographs, graphic art, and animation. Also part of the exhibit was a traditional animal-hide shirt by self-taught Mi’kmaq artist Alma MacDougall, whose vibrant photographs of Mi’kmaq dancing in their brilliantly coloured ceremonial costumes were captivating. She photographed dancers’ heads so that they resembled colourful birds with extravagant plumage. Similarly, she captured costumed dancers in motion so that they resembled birds in some sort of ritual dance, flaunting their feathers as they twirled around.

Throughout the whole event, short films created by Faysal Boukari with students from L’École François-Buote under the ArtSmarts Program were projected onstage. Faysal is a Parisian graphic and animation artist who has chosen to stay in PEI.
He brings with him a unique and contemporary style with a certain whimsy that contributes to the mélange of artistic styles in PEI. When not working with film, Faysal’s preferred medium seems to be pen and ink.

Norah Pendergast displayed a few works that reflected island life. A French teacher in rural PEI, she is also a writer. Her paintings are reminiscent of illustrations for storybooks, likely a reflection of her background as a school teacher. Her use of primary colours in focal images in her painting draw the eye to them immediately. Her human figures are disproportionate, with the legs elongated and the heads and torsos much smaller in relation to the legs, a lengthening of proportions that is similar to Modigliani’s methods.

Noella Richard’s portrait of a man called the most attention to it, with the man’s face spilling out of the canvas, pursing his lips over likely toothless gums. Unlike her smooth portraiture were paintings of a squeeze-box and a keyboard that were done in similar style with strong red tones, rough textures, and the paint applied with a palette knife.

The variety in the artists’ styles was a great complement to the variety of soups and viewers left sated, both aesthetically and gastronomically.

2014-03-20 18.57.17

Soup’Art visual artists and soup artists

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A Celebration of Women’s Art

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Viewers joined artists to fill The Gallery@The Guild on the evening of March 7 to celebrate the launch of the second International Women’s Day Art Exhibit in PEI. Curated by Sandy Kowalik, the exhibit showcased the works of 53 women artists, the majority of which were paintings. Styles ranged from minimalist to modern, covering a gamut of subjects, including a bronze-cast peanut butter sandwich.

You can’t just go there and make one round of the exhibit, since there is so much to take in. I must have gone around three times, taking the works in first, from a distance, then up close to see the titles and names of artists, as well as details of each work, then from a distance again, to experience the effect each piece has on you. The pieces were grouped more or less according to style, subject, or medium, creating a kaleidoscope of colours that jumped out at you from the walls. In between the groups were sculptures in bronze, paverpol, and cornhusk, as well as a cushion, jewelry, a woven table runner, and a photo slideshow in a digital frame.

The variety of subjects, materials, styles, and colours are a testament to the diversity of the women artists who participated, indeed, a microcosm of PEI. Much more than just the artwork on exhibit, was the opportunity to meet several artists, make new friends, and participate in several interesting and stimulating discussions.

As ever, art is an expression of the artist’s being–thoughts, feelings, beliefs–past and present; it is an interpretation of life and the world as the artist sees it; it is the stimulus to creation, inasmuch as it is the creation resulting from inspiration. This exhibit is a testament to women’s art that is both inspired and inspiring. I sincerely hope that it will be something that can be done more than just once every 3 years.

*All works are on sale at $150 or less and will be on exhibit until March 15.