‘Upon Further Discussion’ is collaboration on another level

Graduates of the 2019 BFA class take their final exhibition to the next level at the KAG

Students brought to life sculptures and other art pieces a second time after the first exhibit “A Polite Conversation”. (Aidan Grether/The Omega)

For those wondering what happens after you graduate from the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program at TRU, these students at the Kamloops Art Gallery can show you one of the many possibilities.

Deb Fong, Josh Allan, Kazia Poore and Elizabeth Sigalet, all recent graduates from the TRU BFA program, have worked on a new exhibition at Kamloops Art Gallery titled ‘Upon Further Discussion’. This exhibition is a collaborative project by the four of them that has extended upon their fourth-year exhibition at TRU, which was titled ‘A Polite Conversation’.

The four have been working together as collaborative artists for over a year now. Collaborative work can be a very different experience from working on your own pieces independently.

Deb Fong, one of the four collaborators on the project said, “you can destroy somebody else’s work or you can obliterate it. You can add to it, you can get your own work obliterated or changed or modified. We’ve kind of carried on with that idea of speaking to each other through our art.”

Essentially, the four alumni were granted space at the Cube inside of the Kamloops Arts Gallery and were given four white walls to create art upon.

Josh Allan, another collaborator on the project said “it’s like a conversational sketchbook, so we’re all working on one of these four blank pages and getting ideas down and experimenting. We’re seeing how each other reacts to and forms work. Whether we start just on our own terms and then someone may come and take away or add to it.”

“No rules. We had no rules. I think that was important to us,” Fong said. “And we were given the walls literally, so there were four white walls when we walked into that [space], which was intimidating actually. Within two days, we had most of the base kind of sketched out and we had begun painting, some people were working with charcoal, and there’s also some 3-Dimensional work as well.”

The group had approximately two weeks until the opening of the gallery to work on their project. The group also did not have much planned in advance.

“We had some meetings to bounce around some ideas, but I had done a few tiny paintings and I think Elizabeth had one photograph and stuff but none of us had really done much,” Fong said.

For Allan, this was a new and interesting experiment to him. “Myself and Kazia, we wanted to go in with no preconceptions, and just take whatever inspiration came from the space. So, we got there and worked with what was in the room which was very little. Sometimes a lot more than we thought, and that was an experiment too. Really contrasting to my practice which is really well thought out in advance.”

Although the artists work in different mediums, there was no way any of them could lay claim to the work.

Fong said, “I think it’s really important to me that I don’t own any of it, it’s owned by all of us. I think that’s the only way to approach the collaboration. From start to finish to some extent, otherwise, it gets too hard to either work on what other people are doing or to let go of your own work. It was fun to speak to Josh and somehow find a way for my still life art to speak to his characters and what kind of conversation is a lemon going to have with a monk. It’s a conversation between he and I that has no words. I think you have to be able to converse through your art.”

The Cube is open Monday through Saturday at the Kamloops Art Gallery and is free to visit. On Thursday, the gallery is open late and the entire space is free as well. ‘Upon Further Discussion will be open for viewing until Oct. 26.