We’re not out of the woods yet

Event Details


Libby Hague

May 1st, 2015 to June 19th, 2015
Opening: May 1st, 5-8pm

Artist Talk: May 2nd, 3pm

In this print installation visitors will see an abstracted forest, a forest edge and a clearing, with a variety of creatures and shapes emerging from the underbrush into the clarity of the white gallery walls. This work grows out of the deliberative selection required for any depiction of landscape and the tangled complexity of the fairy tale. It is a quasi-allegory of the rational and irrational, of our desire for a “story” and the structure that may bring understanding.


Artist Statement- We’re not out of the woods yet

In this print installation at Martha Street Studio gallery, visitors will see an abstracted forest, a forest edge and a clearing  with a variety of creatures and shapes, some hidden and some emerging from the underbrush into the clarity of the white gallery walls. This work grows out of the choices inevitably made in any depiction of landscape, particularly when we must edit out the underbrush to get to the view.

Young or old, we all try to  make sense of the world and to find meaning in our lives – to find the view from a controlling vantage point – the  hilltop, where all points converge on us and from us.  We make sense of a confusing inner and outer world by creating forms, telling stories and composing the through lines of melody.  We look for useful patterns and  significant detail and try to avoid  both oversimplifying and drawing every leaf.

But part of maturing is to accept more ambiguity, nuance, and complexity – more underbrush and less control. We can see beyond the evil stepmother and the beautiful princess of childhood fairytales.  Yet we still like moral certainty and a happy ending. When we are frightened by the news in the world,  often we revert to the comfort of our childhood stereotypes and oversimplify.   Perhaps this is our greatest personal and social challenge, to stay complex and resist the stereotype. Because even if the child’s heroes were too simple, the child’s idealism was not.

This installation has all the elements for a good story:  Falling stars. A forest. A mysterious creature. A puppet child. A thrilling, red object. Spatial complexity and symbolic language. You are encouraged either to tell yourself  the story that you need to hear again  or to start coping with the ambiguity of a complicated drama.  To help take you back to that simpler time and, at the same time, as a measure of progress ( or change in you since then)  – the artist provides  a choice of traveling companion that you can carry through the exhibition: a child, a tree or a terror-arousing, black-shape-shifting thing. Or you can go it alone in an adult way and embrace this world’s glorious confusion. 


Text response by Courtney R. Thompson


Visual banter and the paper trail of the universe


            I hide behind the door, so that Reality won’t see me when it enters.

            I hide under the table, from where I can jump out and give Possibility

            a scare. Thus I cast off, like the two arms of an embrace, the two huge     

            tediums that squeeze me – the tedium of being able to live only the

            Real, and the tedium of being able to conceive only the Possible.

                                                                                                Fernando Pessoa   


Libby Hague complicates given expectations. Instead of positing the reveal of the forest for the trees she manifests an abstracted world that imbricates and implicates the two. While binaries can be comforting: light/dark, good/evil, strong/weak; they lose their hard edge when we amass details of the world. Blurred ideals bleed onto one another while we struggle to compose the shape of our thoughts. We cultivate constructions, seek connections and snatch up the bundles only to realize they are vulnerable— they can unravel the more distance we cover.

Printmaking’s modularity lends itself to the building of complexity. Hague’s paper trail cosmos assemble from material histories including her previous exhibitions and studio habitations. In entering the space we experience a visual banter; an attempt to negotiate our own orbit through Hague’s specific constellations. Hague’s mise-en-scène presents an opportunity to shift perceptions, to project our own codified journey on a precarious landscape or perhaps to imagine another. Murmuring materials suggest the colour of our convictions and the memories that inform our identifications.

We begin building worlds in childhood with imagination transcending the limits of the physical. Universes are scrawled out across paper, extended by props close at hand—immediate but always transitional. Transformation is a tool where objects and surfaces can embody a multitude of functions, their forms perhaps suggestive but not always indicative of our own idiosyncratic narrative. Over time we can lose this fluidity and seek to order, losing the poetic potential of the tentative. The anticipation and agony that it could all fall apart is countered with the excitement of building anew. This chaotic synchronicity has a defined presence in Hague’s installation. Her fastened paper connections are deliberate. However, tracing a path is more akin to a journey rather than establishing origins.  

Moving in closer to Hague’s installation produces an ocular tryst. A seduction of surface begs tactile caress to soothe the eye’s desire. Lines vibrate in this landscape. Graphic geographies intimate space but place and time in this world appear elusive. In this pocket of uncertainty tremors begin. Moving beyond the nostalgia of childhood world-making we can assess the deeper complexities of why we make the connections we do. In this sense we question our classifications, symbols and structures of myth. To consider the words of Pessoa, we dodge Reality and begin to scare Possibility.


Libby Hague grew up in Montreal’s west island suburbs in a family of artists and scientists although they never realized it. Instead, they called it "trying out something new", "just puttering around" and "going down to the basement". She was lucky enough to be gratified by the process early on and selfish enough to do it all the time.

She has lived in Ontario since the early 70‘s and has been successful enough to find professional satisfaction (over 50 solo shows) and unsuccessful enough, that no one tells her what to do and she is free to invent whatever she has to. She makes enough money to pay her rent (if she is thrifty) and has time to work and some time to travel. With help it's close to a perfect situation.

Date and Time

May 01, 2015Jun 19, 2015, 11:58 AM - 11:58 AM