Show shakes the POMPOM 

The VAV Gallery opened its latest show, POMPOM, on Feb. 5. The show combines the work of (from left) Maude Pilon, Jasmine Bakalarz and Kirsten McCrea in their personal interpretations on the creation, construction and legacy of women, both individual and iconic.

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The three appear here in front of McCrea’s work. Listening to Le Tigre’s song Hot Topic, she was intrigued by the song’s chant of artistic, political and musical figures that had influenced the band members. She decided to teach herself how to oil paint by creating portraits of each of those named. “I didn’t just want it to be a fan piece. I was also thinking about the way that women’s histories had been systematically erased until about the 1970s.”

McCrea had to track down images of each of the figures, some of whom were meaningful for her, some she never found. “It was really interesting to do portraits of 60 strangers. Portraiture used to be really personal and you had to be sitting in the room with them.”

McCrea said that her confidence with the brush did grow as the project progressed. “I think that the paintings at the end of the series are a lot looser and more confident.”

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Maude Pilon’s work explores memory, space and family. Going through boxes of her childhood drawings that her mother had carefully collected and stored, Pilon decided to embark on “a collaboration with myself.”

While walking home at night along her own familiar routes, she thought about how the buildings she saw in her adult landscape related to the ones she had designed and drawn as a child.

The result is a set of photographs of Montreal homes and buildings with the chalked outlines of her childhood work superimposed on and alongside them. Although the images themselves were not always memorable, notes on them like, “Mr. Moon climbing along a building,” allowed her to reconnect with her own childhood.

This series is one of two she has done using the drawings. In the other, she identified a handful of recurring characters in her drawings, and dressed like them to pose alongside the original images.

The show is at the VAV Gallery until Feb. 15.

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Jasmine Bakalarz is combining her study in photography with her minor in psychology. What would seem an odd fit has actually hit its stride in her current series of photos taken at child beauty pageants.

The huge, colour-saturated images, taken over the last year and a half, are a way to synthesize a number of issues for Bakalarz. “I’m interested in the construction of gender and femininity, particularly in children,” she said.
Add to that a growing interest in the notion of competition and child beauty pageants becomes the perfect synthesis. The two-to-three-foot prints offer a painterly quality to the images, as well as depicting the children in them as almost life-sized. “They aren’t really life-size, but the perspective is surreal.”


Concordia University