Into the Wild: Sonny Assu, Jason Brown, Leisure, Duane Linklater, Alex McLeod, Darren Rigo, Elinor Whidden, Young & Giroux


Sonny Assu, Jason Brown, Leisure (Susannah Wesley and Meredith Carruthers), Duane Linklater, Alex McLeod, Darren Rigo, Elinor Whidden, Daniel Young & Christian Giroux as well as select works from the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre’s permanent collections

Curated by Caitlin Sutherland

September 5 – October 17, 2015
Opening Reception and artist talk with Young and Giroux: September 5, 2:00-4:00pm [artists will be in attendance]
Super Crawl September 11- 13

Into the Wild explores expectations of Canadian wilderness— the fictitious narratives and mythology surrounding a hyper-aestheticized Canadian landscape—how it is romanticized, and its role in the construction and perpetuation of a unifying national identity. The eight artists in this exhibition present nuanced entry points contrasting idealized representations of Canadian wilderness and northerness with charged works highlighting the affects of colonial, infrastructural and environmental interventions as well as Canadians’ continued efforts to domesticate and insert themselves into these constructed mythologies. Works by Sonny Assu and Alex McLeod clearly illustrate the constructed nature of landscape while introducing audiences to the exhibition’s post-wilderness framework. Jason Brown, Duane Linklater and Young & Giroux emphasize the capacity of these idealized representations to act as social hieroglyphs through the social relations they conceal. Leisure, Darren Rigo and Elinor Whidden probe continued attempts to insert ourselves into these pristine spaces, primarily through leisure activities. These insertions, present in each of the works on display, are key markers when considering how this exhibition situates itself and contributes to contemporary post-wilderness debate. This exhibition explicates, for the general public and critically invested art audiences alike, the political and contested nature of landscape in this nation. Landscape is political. It is framed. And most importantly, it is never neutral.   

Download the catalogue HERE (6.8mb)


Auxiliary Programming:

Saturdays at 2pm– Free tours led by Curator, Caitlin Sutherland

Sept 13, 1:00pm– Portage performance by Elinor Whidden with a guide from Workers Arts and Heritage Centre animating Hamilton’s Industrial trail through the Workers City app. Starting Point: Hamilton Artists Inc.

Oct 3, 12:00pm -FREE bus tour from Toronto to Art Gallery of Mississauga, Hamilton Artists Inc. and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Registration required. RSVP at

Oct 3, 2:00-4:00pm – Catalogue Launch featuring essays by Caitlin Sutherland and Andrew Hunter, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, Art Gallery of Ontario

Oct 9, 7:00-10:00pm– BASE CAMP an imaginary expedition led by TH&B Collective (Simon Frank, Dave Hind, Ivan Jurakic and Tor Lukasik-Foss). Base Camp is an artist encampment in the courtyard of Hamilton Artists Inc. that will function as an overnight shelter and as a central communications post for the four member team of TH&B, as they prepare to mount an exploratory urban reconnaissance mission. Whether hiking or canoeing, TH&B will set out to search the ersatz topography bordered by the Niagara escarpment that is revealed only to those who are willing to seek it. Their journey is the ultimate destination.

Oct 14, 7:00pm – Tour of Group of Seven and contemporaries works on view in Art for a Century: 100 for the 100th at the Art Gallery of Hamilton led by Tobi Bruce, Senior Curator of Canadian Art

Oct 16, 7:00pm – Closing reception and artist talk by Duane Linklater


Sonny Assu is Liǥwildaʼx̱w (We Wai Kai) of the Kwakwaka’wakw nations. He graduated from the Emily Carr University in 2002 and is currently completing his MFA at Concordia University. He received the BC Creative Achievement Award in First Nations art in 2011 and was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2012, 2013 and 2015. His work has been accepted into the National Gallery of Canada, the Seattle Art Museum, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC and in various other public and private collections across Canada and the United States. Through museum interventions, large-scale installations, sculpture, photography, printmaking and paintings, Sonny Assu merges the aesthetics of Indigenous iconography with a pop art sensibility in an effort to address contemporary, political and ideological issues. His work often focuses on Indigenous issues and rights, consumerism, branding and new technologies, and the ways in which the past has come to inform contemporary ideas and identities. Assu infuses his work with wry humour to open the dialogue towards the use of consumerism, branding and technology as totemic representation. Within this, his work deals with the loss of language, loss of cultural resources and the effects of colonization upon the Indigenous people of North America. Sonny currently lives and works in Montreal.

Jason Brown is fine art photographer based in Toronto. His work explores storytelling and hints at narratives found in our built environments and the nominal subjects in our surroundings. Born in the small, remote, mining community of Elliot Lake, Ontario, Jason holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree with a concentration in History from Carleton University in Ottawa and he has studied photography at Ryerson University in Toronto. Jason was selected as a Photolucida Critical Mass Finalist in 2012 and he received an Emerging Artist Grant from the Ontario Arts Council in 2013. Jason’s work has been included in a number of distinguished juried art fundraisers and auctions and he has exhibited his work in both solo and group shows.

Meredith Carruthers and Susannah Wesley (Leisure) are artists and curators based in Montreal. Working together under the name “Leisure” since 2004, Carruthers and Wesley engage with socio-historical narratives through conceptual research, conversation, intervention, published texts and exhibition making. Leisure has produced exhibitions and special projects in collaboration with venues in Canada and abroad, and participated in residencies in Banff, Dawson City, Haliburton and Vienna.

Duane Linklater is Omaskêko Cree, from Moose Cree First Nation in Northern Ontario and is currently based in North Bay, Ontario. He was educated at the University of Alberta, receiving a Bachelor of Native Studies and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Duane attended the Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts at Bard College in upstate New York, USA, completing his Master of Fine Arts in Film and Video. Duane produces a range of work including: video and film installation, photography, sculptural objects, and often works within the contexts of cooperative and collaborative gestures. He has exhibited and screened his work nationally and internationally at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Family Business Gallery in New York City, Te Tuhi Centre for Arts Auckland, New Zealand, City Arts Centre in Edinburgh Scotland and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Philadelphia. His collaborative film project with Brian Jungen, Modest Livelihood, was originally presented at the Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Centre as a part of dOCUMENTA (13) with subsequent exhibitions of this work at the Logan Centre Gallery at the University of Chicago (curated by Monika Szewcyyk), Catriona Jeffries Gallery in Vancouver and the Art Gallery of Ontario (curated by Kitty Scott). Duane was also the recipient of the 2013 Sobey Art Award, an annual prize given to an artist under 40. Duane is currently represented by Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver.

Alex McLeod was born in Toronto in 1984 and studied in the Faculty of Art at OCAD University. Currently he is working in multiple streams of digital media. His work has exhibited internationally including The Austrian Film Museum, MASS MOCA, and the Museum of Image and Sound. Prints and animations have been collected by museums and banks across the country. Since 2010 he has guest lectured in institutions such as Pratt Institute, The University of Waikato New Zealand, The University of Denver and most recently at the Design Exchange in Toronto. In addition to academia, he has presented at technology conferences including DIGIFEST and FITC. In partnership with blue chip brands he has built advertisements for web, television and print. There have been over 40 articles written about his work in contemporary art over the last five years. McLeod is currently represented by Division Gallery in Toronto.

Darren Rigo is a Toronto-based artist who spends his time creating images inspired by the ways we connect with natural environments. His practice is built upon his experiences with the rural landscape growing up, his return to the land, and his collaborations with the natural elements in these surroundings. He received a BFA from OCAD University where he majored in photography.

Elinor Whidden received a BA in Canadian/Environmental Studies from Trent University, a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and a MFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  She has exhibited throughout North America, recently showing work in Newfoundland, Ontario, British Columbia and Detroit, MI.  In 2007 she attended the Walking and Art residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and in 2013 she was part of the VSVSVS Summery Residency program in Toronto. Whidden is the recipient of numerous grants and awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and from the Toronto Arts Council. In addition to her studio practice, Elinor Whidden co-founded and continues to work for the Toronto arts collective DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC MEMORY.

Daniel Young and Christian Giroux have been making art together since 2002. They produce sculpture, public art and film installations. Their work is the product of an ongoing conversation concerning the modernity of the mid-century, the production of space and the built environment. Young and Giroux rework modernist forms of abstraction using consumer goods and industrial prototyping methods, construction systems and componentry to produce sculptural objects that partake in architectural discourse. Their film works constitute a form of research on sculptural form in the built environment from the architectural to the domestic scale. Young & Giroux won the 2011 Sobey Art Award. The artists’ have had solo exhibitions at the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal (2011); the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge (2010); Mercer Union, Toronto (2010); and have been included in group exhibitions at Akademie der Kunst for the Forum Expanded, Berlinale, Berlin (2010); the EXiS festival Seoul, South Korea (2009); the Museum Fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany (2009); and the Power Plant, Toronto (2006). Their commissioned Projects include: Mt. Dennis Public Art Project, City of Toronto (2012); Interregnum: Corner Displacement for John Andrews, University of Toronto Scarborough (2011); Infrastructure Canada, Oakville Galleries, Oakville (2012-2010); Camera Tracking a Spiral…, Nuit Blanche, Toronto (2010); and, Reticulated Gambol (2008), Lee Centre Park, City of Toronto. Christian Giroux teaches at the School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph, Ontario. Daniel Young is the Canada Council Artist in Residence at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin for 2011-12.

Andrew Hunter is an accomplished curator, artist, writer and educator. He is the Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Hunter has held curatorial positions at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Kamloops Art Gallery, the University of Waterloo, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and Charlottetown’s Confederation Centre Art Gallery and was a co-founder and co-principal of DodoLab (with Lisa Hirmer), an international program of community collaboration and interdisciplinary creative research. He has lectured on curatorial practice in Canada, the United States, England, China and Croatia. He has also contributed to numerous exhibitions, including the acclaimed retrospectives Alex Colville (Art Gallery of Ontario), Tom Thomson: New Perspectives and Emily Carr: New Perspectives (Art Gallery of Ontario, National Gallery of Canada and Vancouver Art Gallery); The Other Landscape and Northern Passage: The Arctic Voyages of Jackson, Harris and Banting (Art Gallery of Alberta); Dark Matter: Remembering the Great War (Confederation Centre Art Gallery); Lawren Harris: A Painter’s Progress (Americas Society Art Gallery); Ding Ho/Group of Seven (with Gu Xiong, McMichael Canadian Art Collection); Thou Shalt Not Steal: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and Emily Carr (Vancouver Art Gallery); and Seth: Dominion. Hunter is also known for his innovative narrative based museum interventions including Up North: A Northern Ontario Tragedy (Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery), Billy’s Vision and Hanksville (Mendel Art Gallery) and his ongoing creative research performance Professor William Starling’s Perambulations of Inquiry.

Caitlin Sutherland is an independent curator and art critic based in Hamilton, ON. Currently, she is Programming Director of Hamilton Artists Inc. Her academic background is in curatorial practice, criticism, and museum studies from both the Ontario College of Art and Design and the University of Toronto. Sutherland has worked independently as well as with a number of contemporary arts organizations within the greater Toronto-Hamilton area for over a decade, including, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, the University of Toronto Art Centre, Xpace Cultural Centre and the Art Gallery of Burlington. In addition to exhibition texts, to date, she has written for Canadian Art, Beautiful/Decay, Hamilton Arts and Letters and contributes regularly to the online contemporary art publication, Daily Serving.


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