Ehryn Torrell knows about rapid change. Over the past 6 years she has completed a graduate degree, endured her mother’s death, propelled a successful career as an artist, travelled the world, moved to a new country and became a mother. This turbulence is captured in a body of work entitled Self-Similar opening on November 8 at the Cape Breton University Art Gallery.
Self-Similar is a solo exhibition of large-scale paintings and works on paper by Torrell, who was born in Newmarket, Ontario, received her Master of Fine Art from NSCAD University in 2006 and now resides in London, England. The works in Self-Similar contain visual collages of the contemporary built environment. Collapsed, derelict structures are pieced together with remembered cityscapes, fictional fragments and memories drawn from Torrell’s life experiences. The results are at once distant and anonymous, and startlingly familiar.
“Self-similar is a really poignant vision of how deeply our external environment can resonate with our internal selves, even in situations where our surroundings are unfamiliar,” says CBU Art Gallery Director/Curator, Laura Schneider. “We’re really excited to work with our partners in Halifax and Guelph to bring this exhibition to the Cape Breton audience.”
For more than 15 years, Torrell has used architecture and the built environment as subject matter in her artwork, emphasizing the important connection between buildings and the lives and stories they contain. She says, “My work takes on the subject of the built environment and its psychological impact. It aims to give pause and meaning to normalized experience by way of wonder, empathy, and associative memory.”
Trauma and resilience–both global and personal–figure largely in these works, particularly those derived from Torrell’s travels to urban China in fall 2008, the same year as the devastating Sichuan earthquake and Summer Olympic Games. The imagery in these works reflects the rapid pace of urban development in various cities around the world, and the human and environmental destruction that progress can leave in its wake. These images of outward disorder and ruin may be reflections of inner turmoil, yet they manage to remain eminently hopeful.
The opening reception and artist talk for Self-Similar will take place at the CBU Art Gallery November 8 from 6-8 pm. Self-Similar is a co-production of Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery in Halifax, and the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in Guelph, Ontario, curated by Robin Metcalfe and Judith Nasby.
The exhibition will be at the CBU Art Gallery from November 8, 2013 until January 10, 2014.