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Brains ‘A’ flame: Point Grey High School’s response to James Welling’s “Mind on Fire”

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Brains ‘A’ flame: Point Grey High School’s response to James Welling’s “Mind on Fire”

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On Thursday, December 12th, the Point Grey Secondary grade twelve, Art Careers class visited the Contemporary Art Gallery for a full day workshop. 

They spent the day exploring James Welling’s exhibition The Mind On Fire with a focus on studying curatorial practice and conceptual art practices.  As part of the investigation they undertook an experiential response to Welling’s working methods, by conducting a photo-shoot in which students were asked to explore in-camera abstraction techniques. They spent their lunch hours creating images while exploring downtown Vancouver. 

The students were interested in questioning our assumptions of perception and the photographic image, as well as how the inherent ambiguity affected the reading of an image. The students met afterward to discuss and edit the images and categorize them based on the abstraction technique or subject matter of the photographs.  In effect the students curated an exhibition of photography, taking a cue from Welling in grouping images based on intended effect.

The CAG is excited to present a selection images of their work, see above for a slide show. A big thank you to the whole Point Grey HS  Art Careers class and the artists we are presenting here: Kiel Torres, Catherine Wang, Cosette Bote, Aly Slobadov, Nancy Tseng, Forever Young, Kevin McAllum. They’ve posted more images on their Point Grey Art Blog.

The CAG welcome groups of all ages and levels for free guided visits. We also produce guided visits with art-making responses to the exhibitions on display.

Contact [email protected] for more information.

– Shaun Dacey, Curator of Learning and Public Programs

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Related Exhibitions

American artist James Welling emerged as an important figure in the ‘Pictures Generation’, an influential group of artists working in New York in the 1980s, famous for their pioneering use of photography. This exhibition brings together a hundred and fifty of Welling’s early, experimental and abstract works from this period. The exhibition is presented in partnership with MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK and Centro Galego de Arte Contemporànea in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

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James Welling - The Mind on Fire


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William Wood is an art historian and critic concentrating on the history of conceptual art and contemporary Canadian and international work in photography, moving pictures and installation. Starting as a critic and editor with C Magazine, Vanguard, Parachute and Public, Wood went on to a doctorate at the University of Sussex and has taught at universities in the United Kingdom, Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. Recent publications include essays for Ian Wallace: At the Intersection of Painting and Photography and Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965–1980. Forthcoming are writings on The Piano, an exhibition held at the Art Gallery of Alberta this past summer, and Michael Morris: Letters for the Helen and Morris Belkin Art Gallery. For his Feedback talk Wood addressed his remarks to the theme of the para-photographic as it related to the James Welling exhibition and other artists working with photography.

This series invites cultural and critical producers to present thoughts and ideas rooted in their own interests and practices, and invites audiences to join in the conversations that will explore relevant contemporary issues, theories, ideas and culture.

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William Wood


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