At first blush Cynthia Girard’s work is a candy-coated world of animals, birds, and simple political slogans: cute but not threatening. But do not be fooled: Girard uses colour, pattern, and the reassuring forms of small beasts to disarm. On closer look this work deals in class struggle, social utopias, and the game of politics and power. Her paintings and sculptures borrow from the lineage of Political Theatre: theatre by, of, and for the people. Girard picks freely from Western history to select costumes and props, bringing together a commanding cast of unlikely characters, settings, and struggles with an absurdist hand and a comic voice, creating something that sparkles like a fairy tale, but delivers the somber punch of social satire.
Doubting Thomas is a constellation of works from Stuart’s unfolding project that considers the difficulty and possibility of mapping geometric abstraction onto the human body. The exhibition is in two parts: the first pulls together recent works that consider these ideas via the diverse discourses of craft and costume, painting and sculpture. This assembly of works is the prologue to the second: a new immersive theatrical scene which is part of a current project that consists of costumes, props, and scenic displays from a play the elaborates a fictional dialogue between three historical figures: constructivist textile designer Varvara Stepanova, prohibition-era sexologist Ida Craddock, and turn-of-the-century bohemian and dandy Florine Stettheimer. The project filters these three women’s aesthetics and politics together to produce relics of an imaginary modernist feminism that managed to combine the intellectual, the spiritual, and the tangible.