The ECUAA Gallery Project presents an exhibition of work by alum Richard Nielsen, Then and Now, that takes place at BMO Theatre Centre: ECUAA Gallery Project at the BMOTC – Arts Club in Olympic Village. Opening is on Friday, March 11th, 2022 at 7pm.
“This journey began in March of 2020 when, while filling my apocalypse jerrycans with gasoline, I glimpsed my masked reflection in the service station window. I realized this was the new public face of our indeterminate future,” shared Richard Nielsen (Diploma 1998). “I began asking friends to send me masked selfies to use as the basis for paintings.”
Working closely with curator Denise Markonish, Richard assembled more masked selfies from an extended network of artists, writers, activists, and cultural workers in the MASS MoCA community. These became the basis for an exhibition of over 50 painted portraits at MASS MoCA.
“I have continued this work painting masked portraits of communities in LA, and now Vancouver,” said Richard. “The present portraits were based on iPhone selfie-videos collected from the community surrounding my alma mater, ECU, and includes many former classmates, professors, and friends. Painted in acrylic on paper mounted to canvas, the resulting works are exhibited in a zoom-like grid, serving as a monument to community resilience in the face of these ‘socially distanced’ times.”
The iPhone videos have been edited into a supporting digital piece which gives voice to the subjects’ shared and divergent experience of the pandemic. The digital video will be on view in various locations over the course of the exhibition.
The exhibition explores the realm of portraiture and archives solidarity in community. It is a continuation of Richard Nielsen’s work at Mass MOCA, This is Not a Gag, Denise Markonsich, curator and at Track Gallery, Past Imperfect. A painterly document commemorating “a group of individuals who see themselves as citizens and activists, who take this grave moment in history seriously, and who publicly wear garments to ensure the safety of their neighbours and themselves.”
Then and Now is a collaboration between the sitters, organisers (curators), and the artist. In collaboration with Richard, we strove to enrich this archive of citizens. As we emerge from the constraints and isolation of “the Covid times”, the urge to connect with our neighbours, friends and families is strong: renewing and fortifying bonds. Queries of conditions and actions. A call to home that is not a Zoom call.
The participants are connected through the threads of past experience and place. Vancouver and Emily Carr. What is revealed is a visual guide to our personal www.com. Our web of interconnection. The ties that bind and release our combined strengths.
On Friday, March 4th 2022 at 7pm, Art Perry will host Richard for his talk at Emily Carr University Campus, 520 East 1st Ave, Vancouver, V5T 0H2
On Sunday, March 6th 2022 at 6pm, Echo Park North will screen Then and Now: Masked Portraits video in Moberly Park, 7646 Prince Albert St, Vancouver, V5X 3Z4
Richard Nielsen is an artist, painter, photographer and printmaker. With a background in lithography and etching, Nielsen’s painting and photographic practice is informed by the field of printmaking. Committed to offering printmaking opportunities to and emerging artists, Nielsen’s Los Angeles studio, Untitled Prints and, has hosted guest artists from around the world. Nielsen has been a close with Lauren Bon and her Metabolic Studio since 2007.
The Emily Carr Alumni Association is pleased to present The ECUAA Gallery project. The Alumni Gallery project is a longstanding program that began over 25 years ago at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The program supports Emily Carr Alumni: new grads, emerging and re-emerging, mid-career, and established artists. We provide an opportunity to show new work in a public venue, to be supported by other alumni, and to reconnect with other graduates and the university.
Images courtesy of Richard Nielsen. Single portrait is of Tom Wren.