To see video documentation of the performance, click here 

Video documentation by Ryan Ferko and Parastoo Anoushahpour

All photos are stills taken from the video unless otherwise stated

An additional artist statement for Sumac can be found by calling 416-977-6000 ex. 4886 and pressing 2

The title for this work is Sumac. Visual artist Faith La Rocque will be present in the Anniversary Gallery working with staghorn sumac as material. In considering its various uses and generative potential, La Rocque will investigate time, engagement and transformation through a series of simple actions, spanning over the course of the day. She will then endeavour to place components of the sumac, including the seeds, in the cracks and seams of the institution. 

After some time had passed La Rocque offered her reflections on the project:

"Sumac was an intervention/durational artwork developed in real-time, in response to preliminary research about the sumac plant, it’s traditional uses, and my personal felt experiences of OCAD University’s Anniversary Gallery. I was particularly interested in exploring the notion of boundary/containment/‘embeddedness' within the spaces of the gallery and the areas of the building where the future architectural extension will be sited. My intention through the performance was to allow for genuine curiosity, exploration and process in handling the sumac as material. Experientially I observed its soft texture, the seeds as generative units, its animalic form, and the staining and absorption of its colour on my skin and a bisque-fired clay vessel. I was led to contemplate the sumac’s potency, and the ways in which it might transgress or subvert the boundaries of the institutional space."

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Artist Bio: Faith La Rocque

My work examines human experiences through the use of alternative health therapies, which serve as both material and subject matter. I am interested in our desire for transformation, including the range of instincts activated by the uncertainty and relativity inherent in the healing process–in particular those that exploit natural materials, perform ritual and encourage invested belief. My approach is both critical and sensitive, grappling with tensions of truth and the possibility of creating outcomes beyond our current level of understanding; as a result, my research interests include the body, psychology, history, mythology, sacred places and human/animal communication. I tend to work thematically and responsively to sites and spaces, materially bringing together natural, handmade and consumer elements to engage with their physical properties and cultural uses to narrative ends. Ultimately, my aim is to make work that evinces layers of meaning, allowing for both sensory experience and intellectual understanding.

La Rocque is a visual artist currently living in Toronto and exhibiting internationally. Recent group exhibitions include All this Time at the Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto (2016-2017); Present at Erin Stump Projects, Toronto (2016); and Imitation of Life at the Southern Alberta ArtGallery (2016). Solo shows include Medium, Sister, Brooklyn (2015); chisel to carvelight thoughts at De Luca Fine Art, Toronto (2014); and High Acceptance, YYZ Artists’ Outlet, Toronto (2013). In 2016 La Rocque completed a residency at Skaftfell Centre for Visual Arts in Seydisfjordur, Iceland. She has received numerous grants and awards, including the Joseph S. Stauffer Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts.

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