Opening reception Thursday July 17th from 7-9 pm.
The Latcham Gallery is thrilled to host this solo exhibition of new large-scale mixed media canvases and monoprints by Ojibway artist Anong Migwans Beam. The daughter of Carl and Ann Beam, Anong has been touched by a powerfully creative family lineage, but carves out distinct artistic territory uniquely her own. Her work is deeply personal, elegantly weaving autobiographical threads with larger universal themes that communicate a profound understanding of our relationships to the natural, as well as the human-made world, placing us also into a temporal, historical context that is decidedly more expansive and fluid. “Experiencing life as it flows from moment to moment, it becomes easy to negate or disqualify the tangibility, and existence of memories and thoughts of the future. They can become subjugated to the moment. In the field of physics these notions are quite comfortable, [together], a trifecta of human experience.” (1)
Living and working on Manitoulin Island, Anong is surrounded by water and draws heavily on its influence when constructing her work. Imagery drawn from decades of collecting stamps, old magazines and family photos, mixed with minimal application of shimmering oil washes over distempered surfaces generate powerful, fully immersive experiences for viewers. Deep and cavernous spaces, saturated in atmospheric splendor pull the viewer into a world not immediately recognizable but familiar enough for us to fall into the heart of its elemental presence. Her work “describes the courses of memory and consciousness as complex choreographies of remembered images, unique archetypes, spirit guides, animals, and episodes that are all linked not by the linearity we have come to accept unthinkingly as the shape of time... her conception of time’s passage in her paintings is imagined and represented in very different terms.” (2)
While not overtly political, Anong’s work conjures a clear voice that rings out, steady and true; there is a sincerity here that is subversive in its ability to disarm as well as a sense of grounded spirituality to her artworks. In extrapolating on the nature of time - the trifecta of human experience encapsulated in the past, present and future - Beam cites water as allegorically powerful in its ability to bear witness: “These particles have accompanied us, experienced with us all that came before. And in this way, through its cycles of transformation and regeneration, through this incredible machine, water carries our memory and our future.” (3)
To take these pictures in, one cannot help but feel the inviolability of our planet’s waterways, be they rivers, lakes or oceans and at the same time be cognizant of the threat these waterways are currently under. In American art historian James Elkin’s book Pictures and Tears he investigates stories from people for whom standing in front of certain paintings provokes strong and immediate emotional responses. He goes on to suggest that we have been living through a century or more of systematic suppression of these responses to artworks by privileging the opinions of critics and scholars and celebrating our spiritual detachment. Seeing these new works by Anong Migwans Beam in her exhibition, Reservoir will challenge that detachment.
(1.) Beam, Anong Migwans: Artist statement
(2.) Smart, Tom, Watershed: Recent Paintings by Anong Migwans Beam, Art Gallery of Sudbury, 2012
(3.) Beam, Anong Migwans: Artist statement