Art class Re:Union

Fine Arts grads exhibit together

University of Manitoba Fine Arts graduates have put together a collaborative art show at Cre8ery.

Photo by Simeon Rusnak

It’s not often we notice how important things are until we lose them. This was the case for artist Jordan Miller, who injured her right hand in the midst of working on her contribution to upcoming Cre8ery exhibition, Re:Union

Miller is one of the seven artists who became friends at the University of Manitoba’s School of Art. Now, 13 years after graduating, they’re exhibiting their work together for the first time. 

“I had to think differently about my art process,” Miller says about continuing to create with her non-dominant hand. “I don’t plan any of my work. It’s all intuitive, so it’s emotionally very close. In some of the pieces, you can really see my frustration.”

Miller had to change her technique, using a palette knife instead of a brush to better manipulate the paint. 

According to the artist, it took some relearning before what she was making began to look like a ‘Jordan Miller’ painting again. Although, what a Jordan Miller painting looks like has evolved over the years.

“My art has completely changed since I was in fine arts,” Miller says. “I went from being a voice with a concept, to being less of a concept, more of a style.”

She’s looking forward to seeing how her past classmates’ work have changed as well.

Another Re:Union contributor, artist John Roshon, feels similarly about the exhibition. 

“I think it’s going to be interesting just to see the correlation of how everyone’s pieces can still work together, even when we’re not working side by side in the studio,” he says.

After moving from Winnipeg to Edmonton, Roshon needed a place to toss around ideas, so he joined a printmaking group. For both Roshon and Miller, forging that community where art is a priority is an important part of the creative process. 

“You always end up talking about different approaches,” Roshon says. “If you’re at a roadblock, you can talk things through with like-minded people. You might be introduced to a different technique you would never have considered, and that might lend itself better to a piece that you’re working on.”

Miller looks back on her time as a fine arts student through the same lens.

“I think it’s really different from other faculties, like science, where you might know the person that you sit with every day, but in fine arts, you’re all sitting around in a circle and talking about your work,” she says. “You end up with a really close connection.”

The idea for Re:Union surfaced about three years ago, when one night the friends got together for dinner. After getting on a gallery wait list and selecting their dates, seven out of the group of nine said yes to being in the show. 

“One of them lives in Vancouver and the other one had a baby,” Miller says of the two who opted out. Although they stay in touch, sometimes maintaining those connections can be tricky. 

“Some of us are so busy, you know, with kids and family,” she says. “It’s really hard for us with everything that we’re juggling to get together. But when we finally do, it doesn’t feel like we’ve been apart for that long.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 10, 2016)

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