Friday, March 29, 2019

OCADU Gleaners circa 2019

Artist: Ines Scepanovic
Exhibit runs: April 3 - June 28, 2019
CWSE Hallway Gallery, 2nd Floor OISE 
252 Bloor Street West, Toronto

This site-specific installation uses imagery from Francois Millet's 1857 painting, The Gleaners, which depicts three impoverished farm workers collecting grain left behind after the harvest. The scale of Millet's original painting was 84cm X 112cm, a monumental size that was unprecedented in its depiction of themes of labour and poverty. The work was met with negative criticism and suspicion by the upper classes who saw this work as a glorification of the working class.

Originally located by the Sessional Faculty office at OCADU, this installation repeats, in varying sizes, multiple drawings of these three figures from The Gleaners. The figures are representative of the 77 sessional instructors currently employed at the Faculty of Art. As is the case with most Canadian universities, sessional faculty are precariously employed at OCADU. The university prides itself on hiring practicing artists, and yet arguably fails to foster an employment environment that encourages their art practices to flourish.

Ines Scepanovic has always been compelled to use visual language to express and challenge important ideas. Before entering the BFA program at OCADU, Ines’ focus often lay elsewhere. But, she has always made it a priority to carve out a space for her art practice. As an undergraduate and graduate student in Political Science, and then as a law student and lawyer, Ines variously studied art at the Ottawa School of Art, at the Faculty of Continuing Education at McGill University, and at the Toronto School of Art. The head of a single-parent family, she is currently pursuing her BFA at OCAD University on a part-time basis.

Motivated by an egalitarian belief that art can enrich us all, the focus of Ines’ art practice has been to make work that engages viewers outside the gallery setting. Capitalizing on the magic that happens when one comes upon artwork in a non-traditional or unexpected place, Ines has staged temporary installations in Canada and abroad since 1998.