Arts & CultureCampus & CityCultural Affairs

UNREALITY NOW highlights senior U of A printmakers’ work

The UNREALITY NOW exhibit displays projects from 14 University of Alberta senior printmakers

The University of Alberta’s senior printmaking class shares their projects in UNREALITY NOW, an exhibition viewable until June 5.

The UNREALITY NOW exhibition is available online for viewing, and is accessible in person through the exhibition’s gallery windows of the SNAP gallery at 10572 115 Street. It features both digital and print work of 14 senior printmakers from the university.

The University of Alberta has held print showcases in the past; UNREALITY NOW projects showcase a new variety of themes, some of which include identity, loss, and our perception of the world.

Out of the 14 different artists, I will be providing commentary on two projects.

Elise Futoransky’s Berehynia is lithograph print on washi paper, and speaks to the loss of cultural motifs over time. Her print features patterns from Ukrainian pysanky, or Easter eggs stretched over small, fractured triangular pieces. 

Futoransky draws inspiration from her Eastern European heritage, something especially visible in Berehynia. By providing context in her artist statement that Ukrainian pysanky originated from a folk design referencing a goddess, she strengthens the print’s message about the loss of cultural figures. Upon viewing her print, the viewer is struck with the familiarity of an Easter egg design, but may not know the history behind the now-mainstream patterns. Her work evokes a curiosity towards the fracturing of the design, and her artist statement provokes a second look.

The second exhibit I was captivated by is Jennifer Fernando’s print titled Echoes, which left a lasting impression on me. Even as I digitally scrolled through the page to get a feel of the exhibit, the print — which is screen print on Inkjet printed image, stuck with me. Their print is accompanied by a Youtube video, which seems to be a recording of the making of the print portion. In this video, the words on the print are much more legible.

Just by looking at the Echoes print, the viewer gets a good sense for why it is titled so. The white handwritten text contrasts an otherwise plain and unassuming photo of a house, and seems jarring as it covers most of the photo. Faded messages cover and leak out of the house and sky — producing the image of a long conversation’s ‘echo.’

Though I found the Echoes to be vividly jarring, it was nothing compared to its video. The video documents Fernando’s process in creating the overlaid text, and is paired with a haunting audio. The text present in the video allows the viewer to understand the ‘echoes’ of the print are from an emergency dispatcher. This dispatcher complains about various things: understaffing, under-appreciation, and frustration with callers. Underlying the video is a mix of indiscernible mumbling, the sound of the phone ringing, and the crackle of a phone call. 

Fernando ends the video with a few seconds of a blank screen while the audio continues to play. Through the text on Echoes from its video paired with the print visual, Fernando reminds us that although we may take them for granted, workers like emergency dispatchers are essential to everyday life; though our calls may last seconds, the impact of a dispatcher’s work will follow them long after the call is over.

UNREALITY NOW is a showcase of 14 artists’ values, talents, and views of the world. The displayed projects are eye-catching and thought-provoking. Each artist approaches the world from different perspectives, and UNREALITY NOW is the perfect opportunity to reform our current understanding of reality.

Jin He

Jin previously served as the 2021-22 Production Editor at The Gateway. She also had a brief stint as 2022-23 Production Editor. She is in her first year studying pharmacy. If not sleeping, she can often be found supporting local artisans, obsessing over e-sports, and sporting some wicked earrings.

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