To Bend & To Shape

A multimedia exhibition by Clare Samuel

White Water Gallery is excited to present To Bend & To Shape, a multimedia exhibition including photography and video by Toronto-based artist Clare Samuel, from March 23 to May 18, 2024. There will be an opening reception from 2 to 4 pm on Saturday, March 23, with an artist talk happening at 3 pm.

The photographs and videos in To Bend & To Shape make connections between the representation of women’s bodies in histories of the witch hunts, folk tales, and in contemporary cultural myths of femininity. The project was inspired by historian Silvia Federici’s framing of the witch hunts (which occurred over several centuries in Europe and its colonies) as a genocide against women, as well as intersecting identities also considered as ‘other’ such as the poor, racialized, and disabled. Federici argues that the transition to capitalism was only possible through the destruction of women’s power, confining their role to the home and the reproduction and care of the workers.

In witch lore and folktales women’s bodies have magical properties: they can fly, transform their appearance, or use their hair to sink ships. The title To Bend & To Shape references how the word ‘witch’ comes from the root word ‘wic’ meaning to bend or shape — materials, reality or consciousness. In reality women’s bodies also morph and shift, through the stages of life and in the processing of bringing life into the world. And contemporary beauty standards tell us to shape, control and transform ourselves in particular ways. Narrow cultural perspectives on femininity or beauty can also be bent and shaped, in ways that empower us.

Clare Samuel is a visual artist originally from Northern Ireland, now living in Toronto. She holds a BFA from Toronto Metropolitan University and an MFA from Concordia University. Her work focuses on connection and distances between the self and other, as well as notions of social division, borders, and belonging. Spanning mediums such as photography, video, text and installation, her projects are often a dialogue with the idea of portraiture. She has exhibited internationally, most recently at OBORO, Belfast Exposed, and VU Photo, with upcoming solo exhibitions at Public Space One (Iowa City) and PAVED Arts (Saskatoon). Clare’s practice has been supported by Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council. She is co-founder and co-director of Feminist Photography Network, a nexus for research on the relationship between feminism and lens-based media.

Free Performance Art and Virtual Reality Workshop

Join us for another FREE artist workshop on Saturday, February 3, 12-3 pm at WWG (159 Main St E)! A New Dimension is an interactive arts workshop combining performance art and Virtual Reality hosted by atlas gifford. It’s easy to sign up, just click here (or scan the QR code on the poster):

A New Dimension is a hybrid art workshop working in the intersection of digital and traditional media. We will be using performance art as an empowerment tool for participants to explore the theme of futurism, particularly imagining marginalized futures. What will the future of North Bay look like if we provided homeless people with adequate services? What does Indigenous self-determination look like? What does solidarity mean to you, going into the future? These questions and many more will be explored.

We will capture participants’ performances in 360 degrees (in Virtual Reality) to encourage dynamism, something that can be lacking in performance art. Participants will be encouraged to take up space to imagine and construct the future within it.

About the facilitator:

atlas gifford (fae/faer, they/them) is an artist, zinester, and writer who relocated to North Bay in 2022. atlas is a reconnecting Métis person and their art practice is dedicated to disseminating information, community-building, and play. They are also the Executive Director of silver lining media, a new non-profit organization dedicated to zine publishing and creative empowerment workshops. They are completing their degree in Social Welfare and Social Development at Nipissing University. atlas previously studied Visual and Critical Studies at OCAD University and has facilitated workshops across the GTA and in North Bay, ON.

For more information please email or call 705-476-2444.