When Master of Visual Studies curatorial student Yuluo Wei started thinking about the Jackman Humanities Institute's theme for the 2019 school year, "Strange Weather," it occurred to her that the strangest thing about the weather is how little we're forced to pay attention to it. "The way I wanted to approach it was to talk about the climate crisis," she says. "In modern, urban spaces, we have permanent climate control systems. We forget what's really happening outside. It's a kind of amnesia."
That was the genesis of the art exhibition she curated, "Weather Amnesia", which opened in mid-September in a space on the Jackman Institute's 10th floor.
The exhibition features a variety of artworks — some new, some selected from the University of Toronto's permanent collection, but all related in some way to notions of the environment and seasonal change.
Among the pieces on display is a sculpture of the Jackman Humanities building. It was milled out of a chunk of mass timber, an environmentally friendly wood construction material. Wei obtained samples of the wood through the University of Toronto's Mass Timber Institute, where Daniels Faculty researchers are studying ways of using mass timber in the construction of tall buildings. The sculpture was created by Master of Architecture student Fiona Lu:
This is Imago Humanus: shapes interacting during a Canadian Winter, by Rick McCarthy. "It's a collection of shapes in winter," Wei says. "It could be snowflakes, it could be snowstorms or anything you can imagine. This is the only abstract piece in the whole exhibition."
These 3D-printed flowers are by Tania Kitchell. "They're based on the real floral species, but the artist manipulated the ratios," Wei says. "The heads are bigger than the real ones. And they're all white because the artist really wants the audience to focus on the form, and to reimagine what's going on outside."
This piece, titled Birches, Rockcliffe, is a 1922 oil painting by the Scottish-Canadian artist Graham Noble Norwell.
"Weather Amnesia" will remain on view until June 26, 2020 at the Jackman Humanities Institute (170 St. George Street). For more details, and for hours, visit the exhibition's webpage.
Top photograph: Yuluo Wei in front of "Watching, Dull Edges," by Lisa Hirmer. All photographs by Barry Roden.