Gillian Genser Echoes at the Lyceum Gallery

September 28-October 28, 2023


This work has been made of the fractured remains from inhabitants of our endangered world: shells and bones, nests, fallen branches and the delicate last vestiges of insects. Although these lives have unfolded and expired beyond our awareness, they’ve left a trace, an aura of memory, as final testament to their existence.

In the early 2000’s, artist Gillian Genser began working on a sculpture of the biblical figure of Adam that would transform her life utterly. She hoped to reframe a story of domination, subjugation and control as a narrative that explored the interconnected, symbiotic relationship we have with the natural world.

In the process of creation, however, the artist encountered destruction. Through the fine grinding of mussel shells that formed Adam’s body, Gillian was exposed to some of the very pollutants (arsenic, cadmium and lead) that plague our planet. It was a devastating injury from which she will never fully recover. In this fragile place, Gillian uncovered a profound empathy for the suffering and sorrow of the natural world that struggles and cleaves in the wake of human progress and consumption.

Out of this dark journey also came the gift of discovery…the sculptures that emerged from her struggle through poisoning were beautiful testaments to the interconnectedness of all life.

“When something vibrates, the electrons of the entire universe resonate with it. Everything is connected. The greatest tragedy of human existence is the illusion of separateness.” – Albert Einstein

Each work is a fractured vessel that splits wide open to reveal many layers within. Every surface detail and each removable component is a reliquary that holds the hidden story of the creature whose remains form its structure. They propel us toward discovery and carry the hope of amending our rift with the natural world.

Echoes is dedicated to the memory of Gillian’s brother, David Genser, who lived and died in isolation due to illness, and to all those who have been transformed by injury or chance who find themselves in need of healing and restoration.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Sculptures contain magnets and may not be safe for people with pacemakers.

Gillian Genser Echoes at the Lyceum Gallery
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