Joy of Atleigh and catalogue launch

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Join us on January 25th for the opening of the exhibition “Joy of Atleigh,” guest-curated by graduate student Beatriz Asfora, and for the launch of the first Bookcase catalogue, featuring essays by Genevieve Flavelle and Keely McCavitt.


“The Joy of Atleigh” is a conceptual YouTube video project begun by artist Atleigh Homma in 2016. “The Joy of Atleigh” uses the format of the popular make-up tutorial to question stereotypes of race, gender, and identity, both in terms of the artworld and in terms of the consumption of YouTube videos. In each video, Homma uses the tutorial format to talk about art supplies, or to instruct the viewer on how to paint a representational portrait, all the while simultaneously (though subtly) encouraging the audience to question popular culture’s relationship to high art and kitschy “girly” objects. The format of the videos is instantly recognizable to those familiar with popular phenomena such as “Beauty Hauls” and “The Boyfriend Tags.” Homma plays on these tropes in the titles of videos such as “My Boyfriend Does My Portrait,” referencing the popular “My Boyfriend Does My Makeup,” and “Five Favorite Art Supplies,” which references “Five Favorite Makeup Products.” Homma is intentional in creating a character with a “girly” sensibility in order to criticize how people associate “likes,” “subscribers,” or “pink backgrounds” with her status as both a woman and an artist. The work challenges us to analyze our own stereotypes of gender and femininity and their relationship to art.

Someone Else’s Reverie

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Someone Else’s Reverie consists of miniatures that artist and curator Jenna Faye Powell has been collecting for the past twelve years. After the “great miniature purge” of 2015, these objects were kept purely for sentimental reasons. Many of these miniatures were acquired or built for Powell’s 2012 MFA graduating exhibition Welcome to Chesterfield, where they were used as models for her paintings. Chesterfield is a fictional city. It is an illusory place Powell lovingly created to support and develop the many aesthetic, theoretical, and historical inquiries she has around the middle class lifestyle in the suburbs – its perks, its privileges. Chesterfield is constantly changing and adapting to suit her interests. It is a place brimming with mundane everydayness; it is both fantastical and pathetic, full of romance and familiarity. But, Chesterfield is not all laughter and sunshine. From gentrification to poor air quality, Chesterfield is known to absorb real-life problems. The creation story of Chesterfield is one full of contradictions, irony (and failed irony), autobiographical confessions, illusions and allusions, and unguided exploration: Welcome to Chesterfield.


images by Julia Beltrano

Teen Dream

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Teen Dream: The Bookcase’s last exhibition series for 2016


Bronze, Silver, and Gold

guest curator: Matthew Ryan Smith

This small collection of figure skating ephemera reads as a micro-simulacrum of the larger world of competitive figure skating; it serves as an unconventional travelogue that records the places I’ve visited to compete—Oshawa to Sarnia, St. John’s and Saskatoon. As such, it is part archive, part collection, and part autobiography that may be as reflective of me as it is a small segment of Canadiana. There is a darker side to these inanimate objects, however: the ruthless politics of competitive figure skating, the regret of quitting too early and of not pursuing coaching as a means of employment, the sting of nostalgia, the onset of arthritis in my knees and toes from repetitive movement, and the nagging question of “what could have been?” Yet this collection of medals, skates, and Beanie Babies may just be quirky and compelling aesthetic objects—red, white, and blue ribbon matched with bronze, silver, and gold.


“Dear Licorice Whip,”

This small exhibition documents the saved locker notes of the pseudonymous Licorice Whip, a high school student in the 1990s. Tales of friendship, enmity, judgment, and kindness are decorated with doodles and folded into intricate shapes, all together evidencing the highs and lows of teenage life. Licorice Whip was evidently a central figure in the dramas of her high school, a friend to the many who wrote to her for advice, confessed their crushes, or flew into angrily-written rages at the various mishaps of life. Accompanied with found photographs and yearbooks, “Dear Licorice Whip” is all about big hair, junk food, and dating, but also about very real problems, among them loss, confusion, and anger. Donated anonymously to the Bookcase, the Dear Licorice Whip notes are part of a lost tradition – the material recordings of angst, drama, and love.