Project Description

We Can Only Hint at This With Words

April 23 to June 25, 2022
Opening reception and Zine Launch: April 23, 2-4pm
Featuring artists Russna Kaur, M.E. Sparks, and Andrea Taylor
Curated by Kate Henderson

Virtual Contributor Panel Discussion: Sunday July 17, 2022, 12-1:30pm, register here.

View the Zine

There is a slowness that happens in the body when we can’t quite name what we’re looking at. Openness and vulnerability arrive via the experience of looking without speaking, and the phrase “We can only hint at this with words” suggests that a feeling, a moment, or an experience is yearning to be named. But the exhibition’s title also points to the inadequacies of language. Our bodies hold memory, story, and trauma, and words often fail to convey the fleshy, corporeal narrative that defines a life. That is to say, words can only hint at what lies beneath the surface. Through multisurfaced experiential painting, sculpture, installation, and animation, Russna Kaur, M.E. Sparks, and Andrea Taylor aim to fill in the blanks where words cannot describe the myriad personal, historical, and cultural encounters and occurrences that make up the human experience.

All three artists share an approach to surface and material, and through their work each explores the limits and possibilities of their respective mediums. In what ways can an image be extended, pulled apart, unhinged from its borders, set free? How can mediums with predetermined uses become malleable and unfixed? In what ways are these material concerns a metaphor for how we move through the world as humans—particularly as women? We can only hint at this with words attempts to answer these questions through the wordless language of materials and the traces of unseen gestures. The exhibited works resist the boundaries of wall and plinth—they creep, fold, and drape throughout the gallery, becoming unfixed, modular, and ever evolving. The surface of each artwork becomes a skin that tells a story. In this way, these mixed-media objects become living, breathing bodies in the room—entities that we, as viewers, can engage in wordless conversation with.

These extraverbal conversations reveal both the personal and sociohistorical complexities brewing beneath the skin of each work. The artists cull from childhood narratives, cultural traditions, and art historical legacies to create new meanings, thereby inserting their own presences into the folds of history. Through the artists’ processes of quoting, redacting, and revising histories—both personal and political—they subvert heteronormative, patriarchal legacies, proposing alternative narratives that pull apart and reject problematic and oppressive histories that have become bound to the female body. The exhibition opens up into other wordless worlds that speak to experiential and radical lines of questioning, bodily freedom, care, and rebellion.

Artist Bios

Russna Kaur is an artist living and working in Vancouver. She holds an MFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design (2019), and a BA (Honours) with a studio specialization from the University of Waterloo (2013). Solo exhibitions include I Thik The Kracdil wil et Sme and No Bute witse sme a gin., Wil Aballe Art Projects, Vancouver (2021); Veil of Tears, Trapp Projects, Vancouver (2019); and It cannot be heard – the glow is so far away!, A Room With A View Gallery, Toronto (2021). Group exhibitions include High Anxiety, Mónica Reyes Gallery, Vancouver (2021); Holding a line in your hand, Kamloops Art Gallery (2021); and the heart is the origin of your worldview, Art Toronto with Cooper Cole (2019). In 2021, she was commissioned to create an artwork for the second instalment of the Boren Banner Series, a public art initiative at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. Her work is a part of several collections including the Audain Art Museum, Vancouver Art Gallery and the Surrey Art Gallery. Kaur gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

M.E. Sparks is an artist and educator currently living in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 Territory. She holds an MFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, and a BFA from NSCAD University, Halifax. Recent exhibitions include A Fine Line, Trapp Projects, Vancouver; To-Do-To-Do, with Number 3 Gallerys SPAM series; and Hiatus, Ou Gallery, Duncan, BC. Her work has been shown at Access Gallery, Vancouver; Franc Gallery, Vancouver; Dynamo Arts Association, Vancouver; Fifty Fifty Arts Collective, Victoria; Support, London, ON; and SiteFactory, Vancouver. Upcoming projects include a solo exhibition at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art, Kelowna, BC. Sparks gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council.

Andrea Taylor holds an MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier (2014). She has had solo shows at Back Gallery Project and Malaspina Printmakers in Vancouver. Taylor completed a Spring Intensive Residency at Banff Centre, Alberta, in 2017 and has held two collaborative drawing residencies with Margery Theroux. Her sculptures will be a part of a group exhibition curated by Mohammad Salemy at Richmond Art Gallery, BC, in 2022. She has taught for many years for Continuing Studies at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, and is represented by Mó