making peace, making waves

Casey Koyczan, Aaron Leon, Frances Mendes Levitin, Salima Punjani, and Alexis Simoneau

Curated by Katy O’Malley

14 May to 19 Jun 2022

making peace, making waves is a group exhibition featuring work in a variety of media by Casey Koyczan, Aaron Leon, Frances Mendes Levitin, Salima Punjani, and Alexis Simoneau, each exploring deep listening as a strategy for resisting the pressures and distractions of contemporary life. Developed as a space to reflect on the social, political, and cultural conditions of late capitalism and the demands of the attention economy, the exhibition opens space for reconnecting with one’s self and surroundings through embodied, multi-sensory experiences. making peace, making waves builds on the history of the bodily turn in art practices and the shift to the primacy of the body and other senses as vehicles for understanding and experiencing the world. With works that welcome rest and reflection as a means of reception, making peace, making waves ultimately advances a more sustainable model for building social, cultural, and political agency. The exhibition offers grounding in the moment as an anecdote to consumption, to tiring cycles of participation and burnout, with the hope this presence of being extends beyond the walls of the gallery through audience embodiment and transmission.
 

BIOS

Casey Koyczan is a Tlicho Dene interdisciplinary artist from Yellowknife, NT, who uses various mediums to communicate how culture and technology can grow together in order for us to develop a better understanding of who we are, where we come from, and what we will be in the future. He creates with whatever tools necessary to bring an idea to fruition, and works mostly in sculpture, installation, 3D modelling, VR/360, experimentation, filmmaking, and audio works such as msic, soundscapes, and film scores. He is an international artist who has participated in many residencies, exhibits, festivals, and collaborations in parts of the world such as Finland, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. He is also a musician, producer, filmmaker, actor/narrator, and advocate for future generations of artists and musicians. Koyczan holds a Multimedia Production diploma from Lethbridge College, a BFA from Thompson Rivers University, and a MFA from the University of Manitoba.

Aaron Leon is from Splatsin where he grew up in the town of Armstrong. Leon attended Concordia University where he received his BFA with a major in photography and oversees the media needs of the Language and Cultural Program of the Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn Teaching Centre. He is helping to preserve the Splatsin dialect of Secwepemctsín in which there are less than 1% of fluent speakers left. Leon has been focusing on promoting a healthier community through arts and culture, by helping organise art and culture workshops at Splatsin. He has worked in community theatre and currently sits on the board of directors for Caravan Farm Theatre. Interested in exploring identity and Indigenous history, Leon is currently attending UBC Okanagan in the Interdisciplinary Graduate program researching Secwépemc histories and stories in hopes of learning more about how Indigenous People can protect knowledge digitally, and keep intact the importance of responsibility, respect, and reciprocity in the digital world.

Born in Chicago, IL, Frances Mendes Levitin currently lives and works in Detroit, Michigan. Her work has appeared in numerous exhibitions including Hyde Park Art Center, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Smart Bar. Levitin’s creative mind was developed through her extensive art background. At the University of Chicago she was an art science culture fellow while an MFA student in the Department of Visual Arts, and an artist in residence at Wedge Gallery in Chicago. Additionally, Levitin was a member of the Inter-Cooperative Council, a student housing cooperative, while earning her  BFA at the University of Michigan. Levitin considers herself  a life-time learner with dreams of facilitating joy for more people through art. A multidisciplinary artist, information architect, creative technologist, and community builder, Levitin’s practice takes shape in creative projects that are both solo and co-created. She's a co-founder of both Precious Trash Detroit and performance arts group, Matilda. Levitin’s practice searches for connections between concepts that emerge in daily life. These practices include exploration through painting, recovering material from the trash, attending community organizing meetings, composting food scraps, and building rhizomatic systems.

Salima Punjani is a multisensory artist grounded in relational aesthetics. A common thread through all of her work is the creation of environments that allow for receptivity of connection. She is particularly interested in how multiple senses can be used to create artful experiences of empathy, intimacy, and connection. Punjani holds a Master's of Social Work from McGill University, a graduate diploma in Journalism from Concordia University and a BA in Communications and Political Science from Carleton University. Her recent projects include Will you Pass the Salt? (PHI Foundation, Montreal, QC), The Cost of Entry is a Heartbeat (Spatial Sound Institute, Budapest, Hungary), Progression (Tangled Art + Disability, Toronto, QC), Konbit Anba Soley, an interactive documentary, and Moms of Montreal, an ongoing storytelling project.

Alexis Simoneau is an artist based in Vancouver, Canada, who specializes in oil paintings inspired by virtual experiences. She has a background in graphic design, which informs her process through the use of digital prototypes instead of preliminary sketches. Using a methodical, processed-based approach to painting, Alexis draws attention to the increasing blurring lines between physical and virtual representation. Through the use of familiar subjects and symbols combined with graphic mark-making techniques, the work strives to decontextualize that which it represents; creating a visual archive of sourceless online imagery. All of her work is characterized by extremely vivid colour, which mimics the hues displayed on illuminated screens. Alexis is interested in pushing the physical boundaries of the painting medium and finding new ways to merge digital and analog practices. Her work is held in private collections in Montreal, Vancouver, and Washington DC. She has exhibited in a number of group shows and most recently had a solo show at the Slice of Life gallery in Vancouver, BC.

Katy O’Malley (she/her) is an arts communications professional and independent curator from Chicago, Illinois. She most recently served as Media Relations Manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where she developed messaging and audiences for living artists by connecting their ideas to larger conversations taking place in the world. A current MA candidate in Critical Curatorial Studies at UBC, Katy is interested in participatory art practices and the ways audiences are invited into transformative and relational experiences within aesthetic spaces. Katy received her undergraduate degree in Art History, Communications, and Cultural Studies at McGill University in 2014 and is an Audain Graduate Fellow at UBC.

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With gratitude as guests, Access is located on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

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Access additionally recognizes its location in Vancouver’s Chinatown, an area for the gathering of predominantly Cantonese-speaking Chinese labourers, settlers, and businesses since the nineteenth century. Our gallery borders the site of Hogan’s Alley, an important home to Vancouver’s Black population until their forced displacement through the construction of the Georgia viaduct fifty years ago.

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With support from the Killy Foundation and the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at The University of British Columbia.