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Art department’s exhibition connects Japan and Canada

Established Japanese and Canadian printmaking artists to attend opening

Alexandra Haeseker (BFA’66, MFA’72), seen with her work "Spawn."

By Aurelie Maerten
November 18, 2015

The ongoing, artistically fruitful relationship between print artists in Japan and at the University of Calgary will be on proud display next week with a new exhibition, Japan/Canada Connected, running from November 23 to 27 in the Little Gallery and Gallery 621 in the Art Building.

“This artistic alliance between our Department of Art and Japanese printmakers goes back 15 years,” says Bill Laing, professor of printmaking. “It began when Canada was invited to exhibit at the Second Tama International Printmaking Exhibition (2000) in Japan.“

The Society of Northern Alberta Print-artists approached Laing to assist them in selecting a group of Alberta printmakers. Laing’s selection included graduate students and alumni of the art department, such as Nick Dobson (MFA ‘94), Laurel Johannesson (MFA’99), Ina Levytsky (MFA’98), Patti Dawkins (MFA’07), and Marjan Eggermont (MFA’98).

“The exhibition in Tama was my first face-to-face with a lot of these Japanese printmakers. We got to know each other really well and ideas for exchanges started to take shape,” says Laing.

Soon after, renowned Japanese printmaker Koichi Kiyono, traveled to Calgary to stay for a year as a visiting research artist in the Department of Art. Mariko Ota and Yoshie Uchida followed suit.

In 2007, Hideki Kimura, printmaking professor at the Kyoto City University, visited the University of Calgary for a few weeks. Together with Bill Laing, both professors started work on an exchange exhibition of young printmakers in Japan and Calgary.

“Some of our students went to Japan. Then the exhibition was sent over to us,” says Laing. “It was a great success.”

The relationship between both countries continues with the exhibition Japan/Canada Connected, which features multiple works of seven Japanese artists - Fukimo Goto, Ryoji Ikeda, Hideki Kimura, Koichi Kiyono, Mariko Ota, Yoshie Uchida, Sanae Yamamoto – and seven Canadian artists - Derek Besant (BFA’73), Karen Dugas, Alexandra Haeseker (BFA’66, MFA’72), Liz Ingram, Walter Jule, Bill Laing and Gordon Trick (BFA’81, MFA’ 89).

“The exhibition deals with different processes in printmaking; lithography, etching, digital, woodcut, engraving, photomechanical methods,” says Laing. “It’s very interesting to see how some artists are using new technologies, while other artists are using more traditional techniques like intaglio etching and aquatint.”

Most artists will be in Calgary to attend the exhibition’s opening, an experience that is invaluable for printmaking students.

“When installing the pieces, my students will get to interact with the artists and learn how they choose to display their works,” says Laing.

Japan/Canada Connected runs from Nov. 23-27 in the Little Gallery and Gallery 621 in the Art Building.  The opening reception will take place on Nov. 23 at 5:30 p.m.

Bill Laing, Derek Besant and Koichi Kiyono will be guiding a tour of the exhibition as part of the Nickle at Noon Series on Nov. 26 at 12 p.m. – meeting at the Nickle Galleries of the Taylor Family Digital Library.