Q & A with Sara French

Interview by Stephanie Bailey

 Sara French, Photograph by Stephanie Bailey

Sara French, Photograph by Stephanie Bailey

Have you ever thought of making a doorstop out of book? What about a paperweight? Sara French has. And she tells us all about it in a short interview about her show, Dog-Eared. We cover what she's been reading recently, her fascination with the physicality of books, and the ways in which making sculptural objects is continuous with her performance art. So, if you're a book lover, we invite you to take a break from reading and take a listen instead! 

Artist Statement
In an effort to engage with material I have read recently, from newspaper articles to fictional works, I created a series of sculptures that  embody my desire to reify the experience of reading. In order to augment the content and form of these various and oftentimes disparate texts, I conceptualized their readings, by way of an exploration into the act of their consumption. My process combines traditional mediums such as bookbinding, embroidery, and paper-making with non-traditional materials including: found objects, ephemera, and personal belongings. Extrapolating on the consumption of the written word, this exhibition aims to invigorate books along with the diversity of experiences beyond their covers. 

Artist Biography
Sara French is Hayse French, Norman Eberstein, Reena Smith and Maria Marcolina. As these characters she performs in various situations inside and outside of the gallery setting. When not performing, French is producing work of a performative nature that aim to subvert notions of surveillance, business, and archiving. These works manifest as publications, sculptures, and drawings. French is a member of Hardcopy and she works at dc3 Art Projects while maintaining a studio at the Drawing Room.

Q & A with Brad Necyk


Exhibition runs March 5 - 27 
Gallery Hours: 12pm to 5 pm, Monday through Friday
Opening Reception on March 19 at 8pm

Olivia Chow: This series is quite different than your MFA work - can you tell us more on this shift?

Brad Necyk: The work created during my MFA were cathartic personal explorations into my life, my family, my illness and trying to make sense of it all. I tried to look at them through theoretical research; studying the systems that I was part of, that I acted within and that acted through me—psychiatry, pharmaceuticals, suburbia, marriage, heredity and legacy. I could write and abstract it as much as I wanted during my MFA, finding ways to distance myself out of all those photographs, videos and stories, but now they sit like a weight in my stomach. I’m not sure what my daughter will think about it someday. This new work doesn’t sit in me but sticks to me, so it’s a different feeling. It’s not that it’s outside me, that I’m not implicated in it. The coal plants that fire my computers, the billions of mis-distributed wealth in each film and actor, and all the means of production and distribution that goes into this chair I sit in, in this room, are all implicating me in this system. Both bodies of work are in David Bowie’s song Sue "Sue, I got the job, we'll buy the house, you'll need to rest, but now we'll make it", or Father John Misty’s Bored in the USA “Keep my prescriptions filled, now I can’t get off, but I can kind of deal with being.”

OC: What is it about the Anthropocene that you’re interested in? How does it connect to the three videos in the show?

BN: I don’t think as an artist you can ignore the Anthropocene any more than artists could ignore the atom bomb, miles of soup cans, civil or gay rights or the limits of media discourse. The contemporary discussions around the Anthropocene are sticky and span across all disciplines. Mark Dion once said that we have a great test in front of us and he wasn’t sure we would pass it. Whether or not as a people we can break from a cycle of disavowal—thinking about it is like Hirst’s title The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living—it is certainly on our minds. It is soaking its way into our media—our films, novels, art, advertisements, bookkeeping, land agreements and so on. Plus you get words like swarming, mutations, radioactivity, caked layers of bedrock, hyperobjects, super massive black holes, holograms, sticky, ripping, acidification, ionizing and wind.

The films in the Thinking After the World series are a developing project of artifacts of our collective visual culture—films—that are edited to exist without humans. I wanted to visualize a world without humans in film because we don’t seem to get those spaces, at least they are not readily given to us—I want to pry them out and see what worlds unfold. Worlds outside of our worlds.

Just A Hard Rain Series 

Photo Credit: Brad Necyk

OC: The figure in your series look fragmented in a lively way, and also have a very painterly touch to them. What is your decision process on selecting these “scenes" and how are they created? 

BN: When I enjoy music the most is not when it is tight and well-constructed but when it is on the verge of falling apart—on auto-destruct mode. The same is for art, especially painting. There are a few instances when I like the formal dynamics contemporary painting and one of them is when the paint (material) and image are barely able to hold together; to exist in such a way that I can hardly form the aesthetic dimensions to take it in. That is what excited me about these images in Just a Hard Rain. When I decided to appropriate film stills and layer them to see the activity I didn’t know what to expect. I had this shot from Pulp Fiction and it just exploded when the computer rendered it. The figures looked like bodies reduced to ripping flesh and dust nanoseconds after an atomic blast. They were radioactive! Formally, however, they were flat. This is the first project since my undergrad where I physically went into an image and worked it, refined it like a drawing on a tablet—pushing contrasts, sharpening, adjusting colours, etc. And people say I don’t draw anymore…

 OC: So, do you believe in a Post-Apocalypse World?

 BN: There is a lot of baggage that comes with words like ‘believe’. So it’s an almost impossible question to answer honestly without contradicting myself. But contradiction is the most interesting part of art and philosophy for me right now. Things don’t hold together nice and tightly. It’s like violence. Violence cannot be totalizing in its structure, degree and, most importantly, in its narration, but instead local, disparate and fluid, but also viscous—it needs to stick and cling, not envelop and suffocate. These are violent times, a violent world. All worlds are violent though; through to our body’s immune system, to mutating DNA, to the atoms combining and recombining, and electrons moving between different energy states. Whatever objects we hold onto in our ‘world’ are subject to violence, disruption and revolt. It’s like how I experienced the TV series Fringe: a world of unimaginable biological warfare, time travel and parallel universes primed for collision. But I could deal with all this because after each episode’s mass destruction then resolution, the next episode started with people, houses, cities, families and businesses that were completely unaffected and, possibly, unaware of the devastation and nearness of their ‘worlds’ and Worlds end. In every episode there was a ‘world’ for me to return to and that’s why I was okay with all the violence in the previous show. It was structured violence. It wasn’t until the fourth season that I almost couldn’t watch it. There was no more ‘world’ for me to return to. It was twenty-some years later, still with the same cast, but the ‘world’ where Fringe existed was gone. I watched seasons one through three but ultimately live in season four. 

OC: How did you come up with the exhibit title Just A Hard Rain?

BN: Bob Dylan was asked if A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall was about atomic fallout and he said: 'no, it’s just a hard rain. It isn't the fallout rain. I mean some sort of end that’s just gotta happen.' A lot of my titles come from Dylan because I work with him in my ears, sometimes other things (right now radioactive music from Panda Bear or Father John Misty), but mostly him. I guess it’s just about weight, a weight that something has got to happen. I’m not saying what that is, just saying that it is.

OC: What can the viewers get out of this exhibit?

BN: The sense that something is going to happen. Like a hard rain or words like dam, seep or positive feedback loops.


 Please join us at The Drawing Room for an evening reception on 19th March, 8pm. The artist will be present.

Brad Necyk Bio: 

Brad Necyk received his MFA at the University of Alberta and is working through the mediums of photography, video, film and performance. He currently is the Artist in Residence for Transplant Services Alberta Health Services, a position which continues for the length of 2015. His current work, along side this residency, has been looking at ecology with a focus on specific objects within an ecosystem (plutonium-239, Junk DNA, viruses, Turing Tests, holograms) as strategic modes for engaging in artistic reproduction, mutations and revolt.  His other work has focused on (auto)-biography, psychiatry, pharmaceutics and biopolitics. He has been shown around Canada, including the current Alberta Biennial at the Art Gallery of Alberta, participated in artists’ residencies, delivered academic papers internationally, is a scholar in the Integrative Health Institute and is currently teaching a number of senior level courses in Drawing and Intermedia, both at the University of Alberta. 


Join The Drawing Room!

Looking for a place to experiment, collaborate and get down to work? The Drawing Room takes applications for studio or office rental on a month-to-month basis. The shared workshop is located on the cusp of Downtown and Boyle Street at 10253 97 Street and consists of up to nine cultural producers. A common area with basic tools and an open plan provides opportunity for discussion and collaboration, while assigned studio spaces afford the ability to stretch out and make it your own. We have affordable rates, 24 hour access, WiFi, as well as a supportive and diverse community of creatives and small businesses, ranging from an architect to a fibre artist, and a jewellery designer to a bike mechanic!

Apply with a description of yourself and some images of what you do. Please send your submission to chelsea@drawingroomedmonton.com
We'd love to hear from you!

The Circulation of Fluids and Other Exchanges

The Circulation of Fluids and Other Exchanges by Josee Aubin-Ouellette

In the waiting room, people pass the time choosing their favourite cup and taking drink after drink from the water cooler. They sit in chairs staring into space, listening to the music they didn't choose coming from a speaker that they can't see. The plants in their pots slowly grow into dramatic shapes in response to the difficulties presented by their physical environment. The people in the posters on the walls model various cushions, braces, and supports that ease the discomfort experienced by ailing bodies.

Park(ing) Day

Edmonton’s first Park(ing) Day was a great success! Thank you to everyone who came out to view ten different temporary art installations, urban inventions, and performance spaces made out of parts of the avenue that every other day of the year are mere parking spaces.

Thank you, also, to our performers, artists, and interventionists who set the bar high for next year. Whether it was the confetti shower, a space filled with garbage collected from the neighbourhood, the Super Citizen Space, a chance to play fantastical mini-golf, croquet, take part in a silent rock concert, enjoy a tent and campfire, or to record a song live in person, the amount of imagination and creativity shown across the installations showed that art can exist in otherwise-unlikely places.

Thank you

Andrew Buszchak & Émilienne Gervais
Cailin Mills
Stephen Sereda & Gene Kosowan
Jane Purvis & Kelta Coomber
Megan Gnanasihamany, Morgan Melenka, Emmanuel Osahor & Marie Winters
Jesse Northey & Sydney Gross
Robyn Webb & Tom Young
Brad Necyk and Haylee Fortin
Kasie Campbell, Kristen Hiemstra & Jeanette Lazar
Evelyn Liesner, Alex Linfield & Anna Miklas
Erica Morton, Badieh Mozayan & Claire Otto
Alison Ronson
And Tom Young for the photos in the gallery.


Call for Submissions: Industrial Design Show

This November, Bushel is hosting an industrial design show in support of The Drawing Room. We are looking to showcase products and prototypes that are designed and produced in Edmonton and area, for example, products and furniture for the home, kitchen, and office.

Submit by September 30th by clicking here. Event details can be found by downloading the Call for Submissions. Send questions to: mail@bushel.co | Follow @bushelco for news

Partial proceeds from this show will be given to the new Drawing Room

Interested designers can submit projects here: http://bushel.co/submit

Pupusas & Samosas

Here are some photos from the opening.  2 days left to check out Karen Campos' exhibit #flawlessyeg!

Park(ing) Day

Call for Submissions

“Park(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public places.” - http://parkingday.org/

Who does the city belong to? Ownership of the commons is a recurring question that is constantly negotiated at the ground level by property owners, urban planners, city bylaw officers and maintenance crews. 
Take back our public space! The Drawing Room invites dancers, visual artists, musicians, graffiti writers, filmmakers and anything in between to submit a proposal for a temporary installation using the parking stalls outside our future home at 10135 97 Street, on September 19, from 12 to 8 pm.
The event is based on an open-source project from San Francisco-based architecture firm, ReBar. It has become an annual, worldwide event that invites city dwellers everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good. In recent years, participants have built interventions ranging from free health clinics, urban farming and ecology demonstrations, political seminars, art installations, free bike repair shops and even a wedding ceremony! Although temporary, PARK(ing) Day has inspired direct participation in the civic processes that permanently alter the urban landscape. PARK(ing) Day not only highlights the versatility of public spaces, but also showcases a broad range of artists and encourages people to see the city differently.
The aim of the project is to explore the public/private divide in our communities and ask the question, “Who owns public space and how can the public manipulate these areas through their own creative skills?”
Reclaim your city! Engage your community! Transform a parking stall into a temporary installation, an urban intervention or performance venue. What would you do if you owned a parking stall for a day? 

Download the Call for Submissions here
Deadline for proposals is September 5, 2014.
Visit parkingday.org for more information, resources and inspiration!



It is summer and our minds are (understandably) in far away places. Amid the daydreaming, I managed to pin these two down and ask them some tough questions about their collaborative installation now on exhibit at the Drawing Room called Nervure
This mixed media collaboration between Melanie Liles and Sergio Serrano is inspired by the Paris Syndrome — a condition first diagnosed in 1986 by Hiroaki Ota, a Japanese psychiatrist working in France. This transient disorder, experienced by travellers disenchanted with their destination, brings about feelings of anxiety, delusion, persecution, derealization and depersonalization. 
While some of the contributing factors to this affliction are attributed to language and cultural barriers, what is considered to be it's main cause is idealization of place and the inability to reconcile a disparity between expectation and reality. 
In this work the artists seek to explore this condition, it's effects and how these feelings are not necessarily exclusive to Paris nor to travelling, but they can represent a universal predisposition to daydream and build up expectations — and the reaction and coping mechanisms when one is faced with reality. 

Chelsea Boos: The title of the show is Nervure. Could you describe how you came upon the name?
Melanie Liles: Nervure comes from the name of a French psychiatry newsletter, ‘Nervure Journal De Psychiatrie,’ which published Hiroaki Ota’s work on Paris Syndrome in 2004. The word Nervure is French for a vein, as in an insect's wing or the rib of a leaf.

CB: You've said Joseph Cornell is an influence.
Sergio Serrano: I've personally found Cornell as an influence in my work for a while. When discussing this project, his work came to mind again. We found the little vignettes he creates quite fascinating — like peering into someone's headspace and thoughts. We see his shadow boxes and it's many compartments as both a sort of abstract sequential narrative and a metaphor for how humans have a tendency to compartmentalize their experiences and romanticize the image of memory as a neat and organized filing system.  

CB: Some of the emotions you're trying to evoke are nostalgia, overwhelming disappointment and anxiety. What are the reasons behind this?
ML: I think for myself, the reason why I wanted to evoke nostalgia, disappointment and anxiety is because we come from a city where a lot of our friends move or perpetually talk about moving to a bigger city. Some of them come back for work, like myself, or for family, or because they just miss the people and the feeling of safety. Some are genuinely let down and it's that disappointment and those crushed expectations that can keep a person stuck in the past or feeling anxious about the future. 

CB: How does this body of work relate to your own practice?
ML: Through my art, I often like to study and explore the relationship between science and nature. However, the element of psychology helps me observe, in more detail, the human condition in relation to its surroundings. 

CB: Is this the first time you've collaborated together? How is it different from working alone? With other people? What have you taken away from the experience?
SS: Most of my forays into creating more artistic work have been as collaborations. Wether the collaboration happens on the final work created or as part of the development and brainstorming of themes, I always find it to be greatly helpful. It's great to have another mind to bounce things off of, to challenge the way I envision things, and to learn new perspectives and techniques. 
This is my first collaboration with Mel (but hopefully not the last!). Due to some time constraints on my part, the collaborative aspects in this body of work were primarily in the brainstorming and collecting stage of the project — but were still greatly inspiring. Discussing the themes and ideas we wanted to explore and some of the forms envisioned for it allowed me to revisit a type of work — collage and shadow boxes — that I enjoy doing but had neglected for a while and to rekindle that practice.  

Melanie Liles was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Melanie Liles has a degree in Art Education and a background in Theatre Design and Visual Communications. She is currently an Art and French teacher with Edmonton Public Schools and in her spare time works with different forms of printmaking, drawing, and sculpture. Her work often explores ideas around nature, science, and memory.
Sergio Serrano is a graphic designer and artist who has been working as a freelance designer since completing his BDes at the University of Alberta in 2009. His design client-work focuses mainly on the arts and education. His self-initiated work explores different thematic streams including issues of communication, information technology and translation; cosmology, mythology, folklore, proto- and pseudoscience as attempts to understand, explain and communicate human experience; and formal explorations of nonlinear narratives, constructed personal histories and nostalgia. He works in a variety of media including printmaking, drawing, digital, collage and bookworks — both individually and in collaboration with other artists. He has never been to Paris.  

Contact me at chelsea@drawingroomedmonton.com for more information, or visit the gallery Monday to Friday from 12 PM to 5 PM.

Lend a Hand

As you might have heard, The Drawing Room is currently working on renovations to a new location so local artists and designers will have a place to create, gather, and engage! In case you are wondering, the building currently looks a little like this:

You can see we have some work to do. While everyone is very excited about the project and we have lots of momentum, we have very little funds. If you have any of the following skills, please don't hesitate to let us know in what capacity you may be able to help between now and October.

Engineer (ASAP)
• the structural, mechanical, and electrical varieties

Framer (August)
• steel stud framing for the interior walls

Electrician (August)
• Help with wiring, installing outlets, and light fixtures

Plumber/Pipefitter (August)
• install gas lines for furnace and hot water tank
• rough-in bathroom fixtures and sinks
• install toilets, sinks, etc

Drywall (September)
• install, tape and mud drywall

Painting (September)
• sand and paint walls and ceiling

General Labour (Now through October)
• Light demolition
• assistance with all areas
• clean up
• patio build

Email chelsea@drawingroomedmonton.com or sign up here to get involved.

Join our Community of Cultural Producers

Call for Submissions

 Photo by Giulliano Palladino

Photo by Giulliano Palladino

The Drawing Room is seeking applications for studio or office rental on a month-to-month basis. The shared workshop is located on the edge of Downtown and Boyle Street at 10253 97 Street and has space for up to nine people. A common area with basic tools and an open plan provides opportunity for discussion and collaboration, while assigned studio spaces afford the ability to stretch out and make it your own. We have affordable rates, 24 hour access, WiFi, as well as a supportive and diverse community of creatives, ranging from an architect to a fibre artist, and a jewellery designer to a bike mechanic!

Apply before July 1st with a description of yourself and some images of what you do. Send your submission to Chelsea, at chelsea@drawingroomedmonton.com

Feeling the Love

It's difficult to express how grateful I feel to everyone who came to last night's Gala and Auction in support of the Drawing Room and OT Collective. The fundraiser was a huge success thanks to so many amazing people. A fabulous evening was had by all! 

Photos by Fish Griwkowsky


I have to thank the Yellowhead Brewery for handing over their space, especially Ido and Travis who've helped in every way they can. Thank you to Amy van Keeken, Darren Radbourne, Tom Murray, and DJ Prairie Dawn (Jessie Beier) for making such beautiful music and Lori Gawryliuk for making it sound good. Thanks to Garner, Josh, Jeff, Andrew and Brendo, from the Edmonton Cocktail Society for the tasty libations. Bryan Birtles and Amy Shostak did an amazing job as hosts and auctioneers! Thank you!
We couldn't have done it without so many amazing volunteers: Carmen, Teng, Anya, Mackenzy, Rachelle, Jacqueline, Mallory, Lucille, Robyn, Leanne, Aimee, Jaime, Joachim, Matt, Mike, and Derek.
The lovely centrepieces were donated by Sandra Boos and delicious eats were brought to you by Red Fife Catering, Culina Millcreek, and Duchess Bakeshop.
Huge thank you to all the fantastic artists and local businesses who donated such interesting work to the auction:

29 Armstrong
Adam Maitland
Adam Waldron-Blain
Ali Nikerson
Andrew Benson
Anya Tonkonogy
April Dean
Bang Bang Bijoux
Barber Ha
Blair Brennan
Carly Greene
Catherine Burgess
Catlin W. Kuzyk 
Chelsea Boos
Cinder and Smoke
coup boutique
Cynthia Dovell and LGA Architects
Devon Beggs
Duchess Bakeshop
Ed Hunt
Elizabeth Schowalter
Erik Osberg
Erin Ross
Holly Newman
Jeff Kulak
Jill Stanton
Kalie Johnston
Landon Schedler
Loyal Loot
Luca Petryshyn
Maegan Rose Mehler
Mallory Gemmel
Mark Clintberg
Megan Stein
Melanie Liles
Olivia Chow
Paddy Lamb
Paint Spot
Plum Home + Design
Rachelle Bowen and Mackenzy Albright
Red Star
Robert Harpin
Sara French
Sarah Jackson
Sergio Serrano
Shawn Reynar
Stylus Fine Pens
Susanna Barlow
The Artworks
Tory Culen
Tres Carnales
Veekee Workshop

Finally, I'd like to thank my partners, Sean Bliss, Andrew Benson, Mike Wichuk, Garner Beggs, and Linda Ha for taking a chance with me. Love you, Edmonton!