Overburden: Geology, Excavation and Metamorphosis in a Chaotic Age

Oxygen Art Centre: 1 June – 10 July 2021
Kootenay Gallery of Art: 18 June – 21 August 2021
Talks + Workshops (Online): 19 – 20 June 2021
To book an appointment to view the exhibition at Oxygen Art Centre, click here.

Oxygen Art Centre in Nelson BC and Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar BC announce a unique collaborative group exhibition. Overburden: Geology, Excavation and Metamorphosis in a Chaotic Age will take place in two art centres in two rural communities in south-east BC. It will also feature an online exhibition with virtual tours, information about the artists and their work, links to exhibition programming and more. 


Organized by artist and curator Genevieve Robertson on behalf of Oxygen Art Centre and Kootenay Gallery curator Maggie Shirley, the exhibition will feature eleven artists, including 2020 Sobey Art award winners Tsēmā Igharas and Asinnijaq. Other participating artists are Gabriela Escobar Ari, Patti Bailey, Randy Lee Cutler, Darren Fleet, Jim Holyoak, Keith Langergraber, Sarah Nance, Tara Nicholson and Carol Wallace. 


The title, Overburden, references the topsoil and vegetation that is removed before mining takes place. It also references our earth’s current condition and the psychological burden that many people experience in the face of climate and other ecological changes. 


Overburden brings together a group of artists whose shared concerns address geology and its relationship to shifting climate patterns and resource extraction, in both a regional and global context. Artists respond to mining histories in the Kootenay area, arctic ice melt that is uncovering paleontological data, mining reclamation practices, Indigenous sovereignty and glacial seismic events. While some artists bear witness to harmful extraction practices and an ever more unstable world, others seek to find caring, embodied and imaginative ways to come into relationship with the geologic material under our feet and interwoven into our everyday. Through these artistic inquiries, the artists included in Overburden both disrupt and mimic methods of scientific research, and explore embodied, performative and material responses. What are the ways in which the earth is pushing back, disintegrating and metamorphosing in response to our actions? What role might artists play in articulating our anthropocentric paradigm and how can we begin to shift our thinking to one in which interdependence and care are central?


At each gallery, the exhibitions take place on different dates but overlap between June 18 and July 10 for those who wish to experience the complete physical exhibition at both sites. Local residents will be able to visit the Oxygen show starting June 1 and ending July 10. The Kootenay Gallery exhibition will open June 18 and run until August 21. Please consult each gallery to find out hours, days and COVID protocol. 


As part of the exhibition, overburden.ca will offer the exhibition experience virtually, launching May 15. There will be online programming events over the weekend of Saturday June 18  and Sunday June 20 featuring panel talks, workshops and performances. Please consult the website for the full schedule and registration. Programming events will be recorded and accessible following the live events. 


An exhibition catalogue featuring the artists’ work,  curators’ statement and exhibition essay will be published in August 2021. It will also be available digitally at overburden.ca.


For further information contact Oxygen Art Centre at info@oxygenartcentre.org or the Kootenay Gallery at kootenaygallery@telus.net


Oxygen Art Centre and the Kootenay Gallery of Art would like to thank the primary funders, Canada Council for the Arts, the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, British Columbia Arts Council and the Government of British Columbia, as well as sponsors Teck and Columbia Power. 


Artist Biographies:


Asinnajaq is the daughter of Carol Rowan and Jobie Weetaluktuk. She is from Inukjuak, Nunavik and lives in Tiohtià:ke. Asinnajaq’s work includes filmmaking, writing and curating. She co-created Tilliraniit, a three-day festival celebrating Inuit art and artists. Asinnajaq wrote and directed Three Thousand (2017) a short sci-fi documentary, and co-curated Isuma’s exhibition in the ‘Canadian’ pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. Asinnajaq’s work has been exhibited in art galleries and film festivals around the world and was 1 of 25 2020 Sobey Award winners.


Gabriela Escobar Ari is a Bolivian Canadian photographer based in Fernie, BC. Her background in Archaeology and Social Studies influences her work and her interest in human consciousness. Ari’s Latin-American heritage motivates some of her personal projects, which reflect concepts like gender, identity, regional culture and history. Gabriela Escobar Ari is passionate about film photography, vintage alternative photographic methods, and conservation and restoration of old photographic materials. She is one of the lead photographers of the archaeological collection of the Ethnography National Museum in Bolivia (MUSEF). Since moving to Canada Ari completed the Photography Program at SAIT (Calgary) and works as a freelance photographer. Her work has been published in academic journals, documentaries, and travel magazines in Canada, France, United States and Bolivia.


Patti Bailey, qʷn̓qʷin̓x̌n̓ is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation sn̓ʕay̓čkstx (Sinixt), in Inchelium, Washington and practices traditional and contemporary weaving. The last twenty years of her career were spent working as an Environmental Planner for the Colville Tribal government to develop and implement strategies and cooperative working relationships to deal with decades of impact to river communities, Tribal people, and natural resources from Columbia River pollution sources in Canada. Patti Bailey shares this story on Saturday June 19 at 11am as part of the Overburden programming.


Randy Lee Cutler is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice weaves together themes of collaboration, ecology, materiality, science and fiction. Taking the form of walks, performance, collage, printed matter, installation, video, audio and creative writing, she has produced numerous hybrid projects that engage with conversation and research. Exhibitions and performances include the Biennale of Sydney NIRIN 2020, Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery, 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival and Visualeyez Festival of Performance Art, among others. She has published An Elemental Typology an artist book exploring the cultural configurations of minerals in philosophy, mining, science and spirituality as well as an ebook Open Wide: An Abecedarium for the Great Digestive System (2014) available on itunes. Her current research, a SSHRC Insight–funded project called Leaning out of Windows: Art and Physics Collaborations through Aesthetic Transformations (leaningoutofwindows.org), explores how artists and scientists work together to develop a shared understanding of knowledge and how it is translated across their disciplinary communities. Randy is a professor at Emily Carr University in the Faculty of Art on the unceded Coast Salish territories also known as Vancouver, Canada. 


Tsēmā Igharas is an interdisciplinary artist and member of the Tahltan Nation. She uses Potlatch methodology to create conceptual artwork and teachings influenced by her mentorship in Northwest Coast Formline Design at K’saan (2005/06), her studies in visual culture, and time in the mountains. She has a Bachelors degree from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2011) and graduated from the Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design program at OCADU with her thesis work, LAND|MINE which connected materials to mine sites and bodies to the land. Tsēmā won the 2018 Emily Award for outstanding ECUAD alumni; was 1 of 25 2020 Sobey Award winners; and has exhibited and performed her work in various venues in Canada and internationally in Sweden, Mexico, USA and Chile.


Dr. Darren Fleet and Jim Holyoak both grew up in Aldergrove, BC. Since high school, they have been companions in wandering and creative writing. For over 20 years, they have maintained a practice of writing together, that they call ‘856ing,’ (the name based upon the regional telephone code of their former suburban lives). For 8 minutes and 56 seconds, or for one hour, beginning at 8:56pm, they sit together in silence, generating free-associative writing, which they share afterwards. Darren Fleet’s creative, journalistic and scholarly work has been featured in numerous publications and forums including Vice, Public, Frontiers in Communication, Journalists for Human Rights, UTNE Reader, and at the Istanbul Biennial of Art. He is interested in the ways that fossil fuels mediate and define our relationships with the non-human world, and with one another. Jim Holyoak’s discipline consists of book arts, ink-painting and room-sized drawing installations. He received a BFA from the University of Victoria, an MFA from Concordia University, and studied ink painting in Yangshuo, China. Though the content of his work ranges from the biological to the phantasmagorical, there is a persistent interest in human empathy for other species, and in the challenge of fathoming deep time. Jim has exhibited his work, contributed to publications, and attended artist residencies internationally. 


Keith Langergraber received his BFA from the University of Victoria and his MFA from the University of British Columbia. He has shown his work extensively in solo and group exhibitions in galleries in Canada, the United States, and Asia since 1995, most recently at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Burrard Art Foundation and the Burnaby Art gallery. He has received many grants and awards for his work including a Sobey Award nomination, and has given numerous lectures and presentations on his artistic research. In 2005 he was selected to represent Emily Carr at the Canadian Art Colleges Collaborative Banff Residency, Media and Visual Arts, Banff, Alberta. Langergraber researches specific sites to explore social, cultural, and political change. His research and art allows an understanding of the shifts that have taken place at that location over time. Keith Langergraber is a lecturer at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.


Sarah Nance is an interdisciplinary artist based in installation and fiber. She works within the chasm between geologic processes and human experience, locating their entanglements in order to explore a layered perception of place. Nance is currently Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Art at SMU in Dallas, TX. She previously held professorships in Fibres & Material Practices at Concordia University (Montréal, QC) and Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA). Recent exhibitions include Galerie Octave Cowbell in Metz, France;

The Factory in Djúpavík, Iceland; Galerie FOFA in Montréal, QC; 1708 Gallery in Richmond, VA; Antenna in New Orleans, LA; TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary, AB; Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum in San Antonio, TX; Kathrin Cawein Gallery in Forest Grove, OR; and the Pensacola Museum of Art in Pensacola, FL. Past awards include the La Soupée Project Grant (Galerie Diagonale), and the Fountainhead Fellowship (VCU). Nance has participated in artist residencies in Reykjavík and Skagaströnd, Iceland; much of her research continues to be based in Iceland and coastal regions of Canada and the US.


Tara Nicholson has travelled throughout the Arctic to document climatology, exploring the often-blurred edges between science fiction and science. Nicholson has exhibited internationally, most recently at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Modern Fuel Artist-run Centre and the Burnaby Art Gallery.  She has attended residencies including the climate-centered, ‘Earthed’ at the Banff Centre for the Arts (2018), the Künstlerhaus Dortmund, Germany (2013) and the Empire of Dirt, BC (2021). Nicholson teaches at the University of Victoria and holds degrees from Ryerson University (BFA), University of British Columbia (Post Dip) and Concordia University (MFA). She has received ongoing funding from Canada Council for the Arts and the BC Arts Council to produce site-specific works examining links between activism and climatology.  In 2020, she embarked on her PhD at UBC Okanagan to produce a body of exploratory landscape studies linking escalating changes within the Anthropocene. 


Carol Wallace’s current work explores ideas and imagery informed by her former work as a geologist. Her art training started as a summer field geology student in 1988. Field notes were filled with drawn landscapes from ridgetops in the mountains of Northern BC, the Yukon and Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. In the office, back when maps were made by hand, Carol continued her drawing training creating and finalizing geologic maps, later published by various government agencies. After earning her geology degree at the University of Calgary, Carol settled in Nelson, BC starting a consulting company providing services in geomorphology in the Columbia Basin. Drawing and map-making continued in this work, until 2014, when she decided it was time to work full time in her studio as a visual artist.

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