Designers with the Capacity to Inspire

Capacity runs through February 6, 2011 at Bookhou in Toronto.
Location: 798 Dundas St W @ Palmerston
Gallery Hours : 11-5
Public Reception: January 29, 2011, 5-9pm
Admission: free

Featuring new work by: Maiwenn Castellan, Joy Charbonneau, Michelle Ivankovic, Arounna Khounnoraj, Eric McCutcheon, Katherine Morley, Nathalie Nahas, Ayla Newhouse, Ange-line Tetrault,  Kirsten White

Joy Charbonneau's "Hydrological Map of Canada" depicting the interconnected nature of Canada's water supply

I attended the preview of  Capacity at Bookhou. The exhibition, running till February 6, 2011, features new work by 10 top Toronto-based designers, some established, some emerging, all exceptionally talented.

Curators Erin McCutcheon and Katherine Morley asked participating designers to create pieces that reflected how ‘Capacity’ related to their work.  The aim is to profile a diverse group of women designers in a multidisciplinary exhibition.  The designs showcased range from textiles to furniture, sculpture to print.  So, that the exhibition is seamlessly cohesive, that the works on display are accessible, intimate and focused, is no small feat.  The collection taken as a whole is beautiful, each designer’s work crafted with integrity and a strong narrative. Indeed it highlights the great care taken by both curators and designers to create an exhibition that is sure to direct the conversation about the quality of work being produced by local women talent.

Katherine Morely's porcelain "Hanna Eggcup", one of many mediums this designer showcases in this exhibition

The Concept

“What is your capacity to understand? To withstand? To produce? To learn? To love? Is your cup half full or is it half empty? Is infinity possible? How much of who you are is what you collect?”

These questions are addressed thoughtfully in the works on display.  And how the sentiment is addressed is strong in each piece – sometimes irreverently, sometimes philosophically, sometimes full of hope.  Here are a few works that grabbed me.

Maiwenn Castellan's "LIAM Mailbox"

Maiwenn Castellan’s “LIAM” Mailboxes examines capacity in terms of potential space.  The mailbox, a clearly defined box also holds the world’s possibility – from this box comes announcements of new life and new love.  LIAM urges us to make room for that little thrill each day.

Erin McCutcheon's "Lodestar"

Erin McCutcheon’s Lodestar examines the human capacity to survive.  She displays two beautiful mobiles, one made up of ceramic airplanes, the other a series of signal mirrors to attract them when stranded in isolation (each engraved with quotes by Ernest Shackleton) and asks what contributes to our ability to live – even evolve – through the harshest of conditions.

Arounna Khounnoraj "Detachment Series"

Arounna Khounnoraj’s Detachment Series are brooches of naturally dyed fabrics on a felt background, constructed like tiny quilts – grown from the inside out, blossoming to find their shape or capacity.  Though small in size, they also seem to define the space around them.

The Curators

Katherine and Erin have produced an exhibit that represents a range of design practices and talent homegrown in our city.  The show is not about the politics of equality, but a celebration of great design and unique points of view.  The truth is that women designers are simply under-represented in the Canadian landscape as elsewhere. But this exhibition should inform, challenge and direct future dialogue about how this field should be defined.

Thank you Capacity for a show that does no less than make you think and feel.

Not in Toronto, but would like more information on the work of these designers?  Please check out their bios and sites through Capacity’s.

Nathalie Nahas' "Alphabits and Pieces", letters you'll note arranged in song

All images courtesy Capacity

2 Responses to Designers with the Capacity to Inspire

  1. Pat Millar says:

    Awesome review of an unique and creative exhibit.

    • Midori Tanaka says:

      Thanks Pat! It’s really a great show – there are other designers’ not mentioned in this post whose work is a must-see.

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