Born on Prince Edward Island, raised in Ottawa and living in Winnipeg for the past nine years, artist Seth Woodyard is on a whole other level.
His latest exhibition, the multimedia, month-long Good Work, takes place at Ace Art Inc. and finds the 28-year-old visual artist immersing himself in a realistic, work-like installation.
Having done everything from installations, to album covers for local band Flying Fox and the Hunter-Gatherers, Woodyard is already a veteran of the Winnipeg art scene.
Woodyard was a year out of the University of Manitoba’s art school and working a day job doing drywall taping and ornamental plaster restoration when he got the inspiration for what would become Good Work.
“I’m using materials I use in my day job, but using them in different ways or for different aesthetic purposes and goals then when I’d use them at work,” he says.
The piece involves Woodyard himself actually building structures and using the tools, though there are also video, sculpture and musical performance aspects to the piece.
The main video component explores the ritual of bathing, with Woodyard taking a bath as local band Alanadale performs a song it wrote specifically for the project.
The other video performances show Woodyard performing various boring, menial tasks.
“It all grew out of the daily grind,” he says.
When one is creating a piece based in day-to-day activities, the lines between reality and art can occasionally blur.
“The lived experience and art practice fuse into each other,” Woodyard says. “There isn’t a distinct line between one and the other. I take my lived experiences and make them into something that can hopefully play with and draw attention to the mystery that is inherent in the world.
“The materials that I’m using are everyday construction materials. These are just regular, shitty materials, but I try to make them more special than that.”
Another element to the piece involves an army of small, sculpted men that are cast in salt, which, at the end of the workweek will be “sacrificed” into the fountain.
“Over the course of the exhibit, the figures will dissolve in the fountain and they’ll transform the water in the fountain into blood, sweat and tears,” Woodyard says.
Creating the exhibition itself has taken the last two years of his life. This is something that not a lot of people would have the patience for, including a younger Seth Woodyard.
“I used to really much prefer the immediacy of whipping off a painting or drawing, and I would make them really fast, but I’m finding that I’ll slow down a little more now,” he says. “It’s good to take your time.”
Documenting the creation of the exhibit has become part of the process, as well as the piece itself. Woodyard is an avid blogger.
“I’m a fairly recent convert to the Interweb,” he says with a laugh. “It’s a long, drawn-out process, so instead of having to wait two years to show anyone product, I can let them see it as it progresses.
“With this project in particular, (which) is all about work and the daily grind, I think that it is particularly important to have at least a peek into what was involved. I think there’s a fine line between revealing too much and just revealing enough to get a sense of the work involved. There’s something nice in having a mystery in how something was made.”
Seth Woodyard’s new exhibition, Good Work, opens Friday, June 15 with live performances from Alanadale and the Riel Gentlemen’s Choir. It runs until Friday, July 13 at Ace Art Inc. at 290 McDermot Ave. Visit www.sethwoodyard.com.
Published in Volume 66, Number 27 of The Uniter (May 30, 2012)