On Feb. 7, at Flint Saloon, University of Saskatchewan student Jaden Pierce will be presenting Tender Union — an original art show focused on the ways in which we overcome isolation and connect to each other.
Pierce, a third-year political science student with a minor in fine art, started painting in 2016, and her art show at Flint will be her first showing at this scale. The event came about after Pierce responded to a post from the establishment calling for local artists.
“I just saw a post from Brennan, who organizes all the shows, and he posted something saying that he was booking shows for this year. It was kind of spur of the moment, and I just reached out to him,” Pierce said.
After setting up the show, Pierce began working on new pieces and searching for a common theme to unite her portfolio. Rather than repurposing older works, the art on display at Tender Union is a showcase of new material.
“I did have enough, but I wanted it to be more cohesive. I wanted to do a series for this show, so all the pieces that I’m showing are new,” Pierce said.
For Pierce, finding a title for the show was a large part of finding cohesion amidst her work. She settled on the name Tender Union after a long deliberative process. Pierce is confident that the name encompasses and communicates the themes explored in her paintings.
“It took me a while to actually pin down a title. I had three pages of brainstorming, and I could have used any of them, but ‘tender’ is one of my favourite words just because of the feeling of the word. It’s used a lot in conversations about gender and softness and vulnerability,” Pierce said.
The “union” portion of the title is meant to convey a resistance to the isolation that comes along with trauma. It also serves as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the labour movement — an imagined union that represents the needs of the isolated and vulnerable.
Isolation is an unspoken theme in the collection. The pieces themselves do not comment directly on isolation but instead focus on ways in which we can move past our own isolation. Pierce identifies both concepts in the title — tenderness and unity — as ways in which that isolation can be transcended.
Another major theme in the works is the unifying bond we share with nature. Rather than focusing on natural landscapes, the pieces will examine individual elements of nature — the plants and animals that tie us to the natural world.
The concepts and themes Pierce works with in this show draw upon ideas from Indigenous resistance groups as well as from queer and feminist theory.
Pierce stresses that she does not intend to co-opt the language and tools of others’ lived experiences or speak for them, but rather, she views these ideas as a source of inspiration for how trauma can be dealt with. Pierce hopes that, through the artwork, she is able to communicate the need for openness and vulnerability.
“Ideally, I would like people to come away with a desire to open up themselves — whatever that means to them — with other people or within themselves.”
Tender Union by Jaden Pierce will be showing at Flint Saloon from Feb. 7 to 20.
Cole Chretien / Culture Editor
Graphic: Nick Hawrishok / Supplied