Exhibition Dates: Friday October 30 – Friday December 4, 2020
Martha Street Studio is currently closed as of November 1, 2020. Please review our COVID-19 procedures in full here. Scroll to the bottom of this page to view documentation of this exhibition.
Opening Reception CANCELLED. Originally scheduled for Friday October 30, 5-8pm.
Unfortunately, the opening reception for Bram Keast and Neah Kelly’s exhibition Playground Chitchat, has been cancelled in an effort to keep artists, staff, members, and gallery visitors safe during this time. If possible, a closing reception will be scheduled for this exhibition–stay tuned for updates.
Virtual Artist Talk with Neah Kelly:
Saturday November 14, 2pm CT
ASL interpretation by request. Requests must be submitted by 10am CT on Thursday, November 12 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 204-779-6253.
To attend this event, join the Zoom meeting at 2pm on Saturday November 14 by clicking this link: https://zoom.us/j/94530949714 or by joining the meeting using this meeting ID: 945 3094 9714.
Virtual Artist Talk with Bram Keast:
Thursday November 19, 6pm CT
ASL interpretation provided courtesy of Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba.
Exhibition Text by melannie monoceros
These events are free to attend and open to the public.
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This exhibition brings together a collection of artworks by Bram Keast and Neah Kelly who work with concepts of play, tactility, and interaction in their individual practices. Through their two- and three-dimensional approaches, the artists create and break their own aesthetic rules, exploring how play and failure informs and generates conceptual practices. In Playground Chitchat, Keast draws from his body of work, Fourplay, while Kelly contributes works from various series. Both artists explore the materiality of print media, at times remixing it to a point where it is no longer easily identifiable as a screen print, a lithograph, or a monoprint. Conceptually, they also use print media in sculptural and painterly ways as they encourage viewers to engage in dialogue with them through form, imagination, and tactility.
Bram Keast is an interdisciplinary artist whose work engages with a visual realm of instability that offers itself to continuous reinterpretation. Working playfully with the legacies of minimalism and hard-edge painting, his work expands the visual field into a haptic experience felt through both sight and touch. Keast lives and works in Winnipeg and holds a BFA (Honours) from the University of Manitoba. His work has been exhibited in Canada and the United States and is part of several private collections across the world including ones in England. He is a board member of various Winnipeg arts organizations and is an art educator who teaches through workshops and private tutoring.
The artist thanks the Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council for their generous support.
Neah Kelly is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice incorporates printmaking and drawing, often recycling these prints into hand-sewn paper sculptures, installation, and bookbinding. She has exhibited broadly, participating in shows at Woman Made Gallery (Chicago), Site: Brooklyn (New York), and IPCNY (New York). Recent activities include a two-person show at Atelier Circulaire (Montréal), and residencies at KKV Grafik Printmaking Workshop (Malmö, Sweden), the Bonnie McComb Kreye residency (Victoria, BC), and Martha Street Studio (Winnipeg, MB). This year she’ll be participating in a solo-show at Centre3 (Hamilton, ON) this two-person exhibition at Martha Street Studio, and the collaborative project @grammarschoolrules produced during the Collab-19 residency through Artengine (Ottawa, ON) and @enmasseproject with @ambivalentlyyours. She holds a BFA from Concordia University (2014), and an MFA in Printmaking from Indiana University (2018). She currently resides in Hamilton, ON.
The artist thanks the Canada Council for the Arts for their generous support.
Fourplay is a game where the rule is divergence. Start with four, what does that mean? Keep it simple to start. Make four shapes, any shape. How do I move forward from here? There is a disingenuous form in this arrangement, only something’s been added and I think I’ve miscounted. I’d better start over and make sure I’ve got all my marbles. I keep losing track but something feels right about this, I’m not sure why. It’s been a while, but perhaps it was in my pocket all along. I find myself sorting and connecting, grouping and collecting. Maybe there’s something I’m missing, although I’m not sure I’ll find it, so maybe I’ll have to force it. Maybe this isn’t such a good game after all.
Fourplay is a body of work that views itself as a puzzle where the goal is to not solve it, but rather to lose sight of the original puzzle and find itself playing some other game. These playfully experimental works explore relationships between print media, painting and sculpture through an eclectic collage-style assemblage of these individual mediums and materials. Inspired by game design, number games and musical polyrhythms, Fourplay approaches the idea of sets with irreverence and delights in creating, then interrupting sequences of four.
Adherence to a strictly faithful interpretation of “four” is less important than the discovery of how even this simple concept can slip away when examined closely. Repetition opens up a space where an active re-creation takes place, where “four” is re-interpreted and re-made many times over. In each re-assembly, something is lost and something is added, leading erratically from one stage to another as each new arrangement searches for cohesion.
What happens when we continually draw material from the same source over and over again? It becomes a cyclical progression that comes to speak about the creative process. Using three imagined shapes as a point of origin, I work within a set of natural and self-imposed constraints to reimagine and reinterpret my imagery. This process gives birth to endless variations that morph and evolve in order to open up new subsets of inquiry. Each set of shapes are repeated and reimagined through a variety of media, from 2D to 3D. I then circle back, creating a new generation of shapes that manifest from these translations. In this way it has become an elaborate and evolving form of imaginative play. These objects are all connected–though disguised through a variety of methods, they all share a visual lineage. It is a game with myself to be constantly pushing against these limits and constraints, always with the objective to surprise myself with a new iteration–one that can exist within such a strict premise. It is a game between myself and the viewer, to see if they are willing and able to piece the process back together, to connect the dots. In short, it becomes a form of play, an activity that transcends the individual and is common to all.
In its totality, it is a conceptual game that addresses ideas of creativity, the integral necessity of play, and how play, constraints, and rules, can act as an impetus and idea generator. All these ensuing images, objects, permutations are evidence of this personal form of imaginative play – they are not the story in and of themselves. Together, through their interactions, they form the story, which is one of complexity, nonsense, playfulness, and the chaos and joy that come with creative invention.