The Gordon Snelgrove Gallery’s latest show, Magnificent Lore, illustrates powerful stories of the heritage and personal experience of master of fine arts graduate George Gingras. Magnificent Lore is on display in the Snelgrove Gallery on campus from Jan. 29 until Feb. 9.
Gingras created the exhibition as part of his MFA program — something that usually takes five years, but which Gingras finished in two. The exhibition is a striking visual representation of stories that the artist was influenced by while growing up.
At the show’s reception on Feb. 3, Gingras described his artwork as imaginative realism. The exhibition is an oasis of vibrant colours, depicting an array of folklore-inspired animals and humans, with media ranging from graphite illustrations to acrylic to oil on canvas. One of the central elements of the exhibit is based on Gingras’s Métis heritage.
For Gingras, the cultural stories and teachings he was told as a youth have influenced the direction of his artwork and have given him the desire to portray these personal messages to his audience.
“These clutches of knowledge are coming from my heritage, which is quite a Heinz 57 mix. They stem from French and Métis, Ukrainian, Polish and German from the other side. There’s a way of borrowing knowledges in order to teach perhaps new generations,” Gingras said.
Despite these cultural influences, there is no specific theme to the exhibit, and members of the audience are encouraged to interpret the works themselves. Gingras does not want his audience to be restricted to the sole interpretation of whether the pieces reflect French lore or Métis lore, but instead, he hopes people will leave with diverse viewing experiences.
“When we tell those stories that are rooted in tricks and riddles, then the interpretation from those teachings [becomes] very wide open, and those wide-open teachings allow you to discover who you are and move to self-actualization,” Gingras said.
During his MFA, Gingras also studied neurolinguistic programing to learn skills he could apply to his work to communicate the ups and downs of academia to his audience. For Gingras, there are many factors involved in the creative process that always aren’t taken into account or explored.
When Gingras finished his undergraduate degree, he was heavily in debt — a situation that is far too familiar for university students. This debt led him to study finances, which gave him the skills to help him invest as an artist and to be successful in the industry. Gingras explains how studying finances has supported his artistic career.
“I think artists don’t just create art — they have to know the business. When I’m leaving this MFA program, I want to be debt free,” Gingras said.
Despite the high cost of education, Gingras has remained ambitious to learn and to create his art.
“I was never discouraged from creating my work,” Gingras said. “I knew success wasn’t going to be instant.”
Magnificent Lore will be featured at the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery until Feb. 9. You can also view Gingras’s artwork, purchase prints and keep up to date on his artistic endeavours on his website, georgegingrasart.ca/pages/about.
Photos: David Hartman