Leah Decter: Expressing ideas and engaging her audience

“Untitled (Wig)” by Leah Decter. Leah Decter

Leah Decter is giving an artist talk this week, and she certainly has a lot of work and accomplishments to reflect on.

The Winnipeg-based multi-media artist has been practising her art since 1990. Her exhibits have appeared across North America and around the world in the UK, Australia and Europe. She’s won numerous grants and awards such as the Manitoba Arts Council Student Bursary Award.

Now she is speaking at Ace Art in their “Artist Talk” series, to reflect on developments in her practice over the past decade, as well as how she’s been successful for so many years.

Decter says that she’s been an artist for as long as she could remember.

“I have always made things,” she says. “I started to become serious about art when I went to art school. There was never a time where I didn’t create in some way. Since then, I’ve had an active art practice for over 15 years.”

Decter feels that there are many ways to reach people. In her lecture, she will be talking about the “thematic and conceptual elements” of her work and her approach, by highlighting a selection of pieces from 2005.

“I choose my media based on what will best express the ideas I am working with and what will be most effective in engaging an audience in the way that I want to engage them. People all accept stimuli in different ways, and not every medium works for every person.”

Decter believes social issues are integral to her work.

“My work is often based in explorations of social and political issues that intersect with my experience. As part of an integrative research practice my art production is an important part of how I think through complex issues. From the perspective of a viewer or audience, art has a unique capacity to highlight issues by conveying their complexity and provoking thought rather than providing answers.”

Decter, along with Jamie Isaac, started the “(Official Denial) Trade Value In Progress” project. It was created to respond to Stephen Harper’s comments at a G20 Summit, where he stated that “we also have no history of colonialism.”

The project used his comment to start a dialogue with aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, coming together as a textile piece made up of Hudson Bay blankets. People can send in responses to Harper’s statement, provide a venue to exhibit the blanket, or even contribute to the blanket themselves.

But Decter has decided to focus her upcoming talk on her entire career, rather than the textile.

“I’ve decided to stop talking about it. Since I started it, I’ve been doing talks about it almost non-stop. For this engagement, they told me to talk about my work around my whole career, so I decided to leave it be.”

Leah Decter will give an artist talk at Ace Art on Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m. Visit www.aceart.org and www.leahdecter.com.

Published in Volume 66, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 14, 2012)

Related Reads