Arts & CultureCampus & City

New FAB exhibit toys with childhood

Heather Leier’s “Hide & Seek”
Tuesday Feb. 23 to Saturday March 19, 2016
FAB Gallery
Free

Heather Leier looks at childhood in an invasive way through sculptures that have been photographed and created into prints and installations. Using blankets, children’s toys, and childhood images Leier has created a non-idealized space to allow people to pause and reminisce on childhood.

The University of Alberta student has been finding recent success as the first Canadian to win the Southern Graphic Council International’s Graduate Student Fellowship award. Currently, Leier is finishing her MFA in Printmaking. Her thesis “Hide & Seek” is a project that is meant to be a consideration of childhood. Through printmaking and installation she brings to life the juxtaposition of a childhood filled with wonder and anxiety.

An installation involving toys in a fort-like created space and three different sections of prints displayed in the gallery have all come together to perfectly display Leier’s final visual presentation. Inspiring thoughts of the past through the magic of curiosity as well as a sense of discomfort about the very unknown memories of early childhood.

Leier says she wants people to “consider the non-idyllic side of childhood that we find specific to childhood, that sense of wonder, and balancing it with feelings of anxiety in all the rooms.”

Using enclosed spaces in the installation,  Leier opens with the feeling of confinement while drawing on a classic childhood image of a fort-like safe space. The room under the stairs has a little bright light evoking the magic of childhood curiosity, while displaying some of the disfigured doll sculptures that Leier specifically created for her prints in the other featured rooms.

The unexpected images on the prints have an element of fear and discomfort as the mangled childhood objects bring thoughts of destruction and loss.

The objects used for the installation and the prints are a combination of transition objects such as blankets, stuffed animals, and dolls. Using these objects to represent the loss of innocence as children become independent. The slightly unnerving images of destroyed dolls certainly characterize the separation from childhood and bring the feelings of anxiety that Leier was hoping to convey.

“Hide and seek is, of course, a children’s game … If you see this exhibition I’m trying to evoke ideas that we try to hide from each other and the feelings of anxieties that we keep secret,” says Leier.

She explains how she decided on the idea of childhood because of its universality and how everyone, at some point, has paused and reflected back upon their past. This space was created to give people a specific place to reflect on those memories.

“I have feelings of wonder and magic but I also have feelings of intense anxiety and pressure, so I really wanted to capture the balance between those two things and explore how childhood exists in those two forms,” says Leier.

By connecting viewers with the universal experience of childhood, Leier has created a space of reflection on childhood complexities where people can pause and consider their past as they think about the influence that their childhood wonder or anxiety has had on their present today.

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