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Undergraduate Scholarship 2022

Vivian Smith

Alberta University of the Arts, Calgary, AB

Artist Statement

A multi-disciplinary artist with a background in engineering, I explore the experience of aging
starting with my body and utilizing traditional materials such as paint, fibre, and ceramics.

With my art practice, I invite the viewer to contemplate the process of aging and the accumulation of experiences and knowledge. In Transitions, I utilize positive and negative space in tandem to repeatedly depict a body unsupported in space, caught in the act of moving from one location to another. The environment surrounding the bodies is ambiguous. It containts a space where a body once was. Freedom 55 is comprised of 43 tiles made from clay, a material commonly associated with the body. Each tile holds the image of a cocoa bean and represents one year of female fertility. In areas of the world where women do not have access to abortion, each tile also represents the possible loss of bodily autonomy and exploitation, just as cocoa planation workers are exploited through inadequate financial compensation. Bodily autonomy, which is considered a basic human right, is only truly attainable in areas with strict abortion laws once it is no longer possible to become pregnant. 2020 – An Evolution explores the emotional rollercoaster of the Covid epidemic throughmultiple self-portraits painted over the last two years. The emotions I, and many have experienced and continue to experience, are evident in the self-portraits and range from fear, worry, doom scrolling, contemplation, and finally, acceptance.

The final two artworks, Skull Milk Lemons I & II, are modern memento moris. These works explore the certainty of death, but with a modern twist. The ubiquitous to-go coffee cup filled with a hot drink is a reminder to enjoy the pleasures of life while you can, but it is also a warning. The single use cup and lid designed for momentary pleasure can have a long-termenvironmental impact, a risk of living only for the moment. The milk carton is a reminder of how quickly milk can sour and also of missing children ads on the back of milk cartons during the 1980’s and 90’s. The missing children, like Schrödinger’s cat, were caught in a state between life and death, their fate unknown. Both paintings include lemons,suggestive that what is here today is gone tomorrow and to take what life has to offer even though it may be bitter.

Submitted Work

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