We Are All Electric Beings
October 13, 2022 - January 8, 2023
Rachel Broussard, Alyssa Ellis, Heather Shillinglaw, Laurel Terlesky
Curated by Sandee Moore
Drawing on traditional knowledge, Western science and empathetic relationships with plants, the artists in this group exhibition elucidate the complex interconnectedness of humans and plants.
The title of this exhibition is drawn from knowledge passed from Elder Shirley Shillinglaw to artist Heather Shillinglaw as she researched and created her large-scale embroideries of medicine plants foraged by her ancestors.
The electricity that animates living cells, whether mammal or vegetal, is made explicit in Laurel Terlesky's botanical drawings that illuminate when touched, making visible the fact that all living beings carry an electrical charge on the surface of their cells.
Similarly, Rachel Broussard uses plant and animal bodies cut from the pages of photographic books to spell shadowy messages of environmental doom, recognizing the interdependence and vulnerability of all species in an ecosystem.
Artist and horticulturist Alyssa Ellis delves into the codependent relationship of care between humans and houseplants with her relational aesthetics artworks Plant Spa and Plant Adoption, re-homing plants rescued and rehabilitated from dumpsters.
We Are All Electric Beings proposes a leveling of hierarchies that acknowledge the equal value of all living beings and explores various ways that humans interface with plants: evolutionary, caring, exploiting, empathizing, protecting, nourishing and familial.
Official exhibition sponsor: TD Asset Management
Images (left to right): Heather Shillinglaw, sâpotawêw she looks over a meadow and nânitawâpamêw sakâw nâtawihowin she searches for forest medicine [installation view], 2022; Rachel Broussard, Climate Anxiety, 2022; Laurel Terlesky, Tenacity of Hope [detail], 2019-2021; Alyssa Ellis, Plant Spa and Plant Adoption [installation view], 2022. All photos: Don Hall.
Click through the gallery for more images of the exhibition.
Video documentation: Alyssa Ellis, Plant Spa (excerpt from live performance on October 13, 2022), 2022. Video documentation by Ian Campbell.
Laurel Terlesky explores points of oversight and disconnect between technological interfaces and the need for nonverbal communication and implicit understanding, such as visual and touch, in her artworks. Her electronic-integrated objects and drawings, activated by touch and motion, create situations for physical and tactile encounters.
Terlesky holds an MFA from Transart Institute and a BFA from the University of Victoria. Terklesky's artworks have been televised, screened and exhibited worldwide and ask questions about the nature of embodiment: How are memories stored in our flesh? Why does touch unleash memories? How does the body mediate our past and future while remaining present?
Heather Shillinglaw gives material form to oral histories and traditional knowledge using textile practices such as quilting and tufting. Shillinglaw traces her Indigenous ancestry to Cold Lake first nations through her mother, a residential school survivor. Her process includes learning and using the nêhiyawak language to understand ancestral philosophies and cultivate a relationship with the land.
A graduate of the Alberta College of Art and Design, Shillinglaw has exhibited her artwork at national and international venues, including the Canadian Embassy Buenos Aires, Argentina, Petofi Irodalmi Museum, & New Budapest Gallery, Royal Alberta Museum Edmonton, and The Museum of Contemporary Art Calgary.
Alyssa Ellis is a multidisciplinary artist whose work with plants reveals social ills and the impacts of climate change. Seemingly botanical subjects reveal the multifaceted relationships of care, disregard and exploitation of humans for members of the plant kingdom. Ellis holds a diploma in horticulture from the University of Guelph and a BFA from the Alberta College of Art + Design and has participated in festivals, exhibitions and residencies across the country.
Rachel Broussard, originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, is a multimedia artist based on Treaty 6 Territory. She creates surreal, immersive sculptural collage environments sourced from nature photography books. Harnessing uncanny beauty, her artworks address hunger for the exotic, climate anxiety and grief. Broussard holds an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan and a BA in Studio Art from St. Edward's University, Austin, TX. They work as Technical Director at PAVED Arts and as a Program Guide at Remai Modern.
Moore, Sandee. "Culture Days." Interview by Moises Canales-Lavigne. Global News Regina. September 27, 2022. Television.
Moore, Sandee. Interview by Lisa Peters. Talk of the Town, Access 7. October 21, 25, 27, 2022. Television.
"'We Are All Electric Beings': Regina art exhibit hopes to raise awareness for environmental issues." CTV News, Regina, October 14, 2022. Reported by Anhelina Ihnativ. https://regina.ctvnews.ca/we-are-all-electric-beings-regina-art-exhibit-hopes-to-raise-awareness-for-environmental-issues-1.6110171
Moore, Sandee. "On The Go." Interview by Kayleen Sawatzky. CTV News Regina, Morning Live. November 8, 2022. Television. https://regina.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=2558648
Joined by Dr. Mel Hart, a member of the George F. Ledingham Herbarium committee at the University of Regina, artists in the exhibition We Are All Electric Beings (Heather Shillinglaw, Laurel Terlesky, Rachel Broussard, and Alyssa Ellis) discussed how they value and represent plants in their work. Dr. Hart responded to each artists’ work with complimentary image of a dried plant specimen from the herbarium's collection.
Artists and biologist touch on local ecosystems, environmental change, traditional knowledge, plants as commodities and share stories of care by and for plants in their conversations. Artists revealed why they value the plants they depict in their artworks, how their method of representation reveals unseen or unknown qualities of their botanical subjects and their perspectives on the role of the artist versus scientist. For example, all specimens in an herbarium must be uniform in presentation while novelty and invention are valued in the work of artists.
The discussion also encompassed connections between biologists' and artists' understanding of plants, such as artist Laurel Terlesky's botanical drawings that illuminate when touched making visible the fact that all living beings carry an electrical charge on the surface of their cells.
self-guided tour pamphlet:
audio tour transcript:
Visit the Art Gallery of Regina's Culture Days 2022 webpage to learn about the novel and artistic ways we connect humans to plants.
We are grateful to SaskCulture funded by SaskLotteries for making it possible for us to offer these free and rewarding opportunities to connect with art and non-human beings.
The Art Gallery of Regina is grateful to SKarts and the City of Regina for their core funding.