In her Marginal Lands exhibit, artist Alyson Champ presents an immersive multidisciplinary representation of four marginal landscapes from the area. The exhibit is so multidisciplinary that even the venues serve as active participants that shape the experience of the show.
As attendees walk through the exhibit, they are taken through art depicting marginal lands in the four seasons. It is thus fitting that Champ chose four venues, each of which stand in stark contrast to the others, just as the four seasons differ from each other. The various mountings of the exhibit offer a metamorphosis of the show – its core is maintained, but the environments transform people’s perceptions and observations. “I think every time you go through it, the experience is slightly different. Every time, its setup is unique,” she says.
By the time the show is set up in its final destination, it will have traversed much of the Chateauguay Valley. During its inception phase Champ says, “I did a lot of looking and driving and photographing,” before finally settling on scenes from her home in Saint Chrysostome, Ormstown, Hinchinbrooke, and Dundee. After three laborious years spent dreaming up the project, writing grant applications to enable her to see it through to fruition, researching marginal lands, and then creating the art itself, Champ introduced the show to Valley residents at the Salle Culturelle Alfred Langevin in Huntingdon. It was then set up at the Havelock Fairgrounds on July 23 and 24. Next it will be in Ormstown on August 27 and 28 at a warehouse located at 65 Saint Paul Street, before finally wrapping up in the Très-Saint-Sacrement town hall on October 1 and 2.
Due to the many technical components and the size of the murals which serve as the focal points of the exhibit, it is an ambitious endeavor to do weekend pop-ups with the show. However, considering Champ has stressed that her ultimate goal with this project has been to make art accessible in our rural community, it is a challenge well worth the undertaking. She reflects on how, as a child, her exposure to art was mainly through books until she was a little bit older and able to make it into the city to museums. The need to travel to the city to experience the arts erects a barrier for rural people, and Champ passionately argues: “People who live in the country have as much right as anybody else to participate in culture, so I wanted to make an art project that could go right into the community … [because] why shouldn’t it be us?”
Champ says she gets a thrill out of juxtaposing a variety of spaces to enhance the immersive experience of the art. For example, the Havelock Fairgrounds location provided a rich historical backdrop, where the sounds around the location mirrored those which are already part of the exhibit. The upcoming Ormstown show will be in an industrial warehouse, and Champ is excited to explore the transition involved in taking art that is all about nature from a natural space to a more “unnatural” one. Of each venue, she states, “It’s not an art gallery, but it functions. And who says that art can only be in some designated space?”