December 8 – 30, 2018
Opening Reception: December 8, 2018
Mary Catherine Newcomb’s A… exposes the plight of a significant but silent and ignored group of people, while inviting the viewer to ponder the roles, consequences and function of exclusion in larger contexts.
Rage, humiliation, shame, self doubt and a loss of self respect are only a few of the destructive emotions that exclusion evokes. Wresting with these feelings is a messy, painful, confusing, undignified and interminable hell. The lucky, like the heroes of myth, emerge transformed, while the unlucky or inexperienced flounder.
For Newcomb, this isn’t an abstract idea. The artist has a stigmatized and misrepresented health issue, and has been unable to return to work because providing a safe environment for her conflicts with the rights of others.
Referencing personal experience and her body, Newcomb draws the viewer into a realm that acknowledges a direct animal response to exclusion, and alludes to the mythic demand for sacrifice. In her use of historical imagery, she asks whether this situation is merely a modern iteration of an inescapable human drama.
In The Scarlet Letter, heroine Hester Prynne is ostracized for sexual transgression. She is ordered to wear her shame in the form of a scarlet ‘A’ (for adulteress) sewn onto her clothing. In contrast to her defiant, embellished A, Newcomb’s A… stands for allergic and asthmatic (and artist) . . .
As physical and social environments rapidly change, various people, species and landscapes cannot survive. Mary Catherine is proud to be, in her own small way, going down on the same ship as other tested individuals and species. A is for absent.
About the Artist
Mary Catherine Newcomb is a sculptor, installation artist and teacher. She studied biological science at the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph before committing to a career as an artist. She holds a general degree from the University of Toronto, a BFA from the University of Waterloo and an MFA from York University. She has exhibited work across Canada and in Germany, and is the recipient of many grants and awards. She is a member of the Nethermind collective, and has taught at various institutions in Southern Ontario — most recently for the Ontario College system.
The artist would like to thank Two Smiths and Robert McNair, who donated time and resources to help raise awareness of an ignored issue. She also wants to acknowledge the unrecognized bravery of individuals who have responded with legal challenges to the transportation industry’s carelessness and apparent determination to put health and lives of the vulnerable at risk.