Fourth-Year Art Students Show Surrey Their Collective Unconscious

Soon-to-be graduates display their artwork at Surrey campus library

Paula Aguilar, Contributor

Keith Harris uses symbolic objects to find his identity in his piece for the Collective Unconscious art exhibit at KPU. (Paula Aguilar)

Throughout the past few weeks, fourth-year art students have been exhibiting some of their work in the Arbutus gallery on the Surrey campus. The exhibit, Collective Unconscious, includes a number of powerful artworks ranging from oil paintings to sculptures, and offers a hint of what’s to come at the year-end grad show this April.

Towards the front of the gallery, black cloth is positioned to portray women—facing away from the viewer—wearing a “robe-like dress” called an abaya. For the artist, Durrah Alsaif, bringing attention to Saudi Arabia and cultural differences is a very important part of her art. Women in Saudi Arabia are required to cover up entirely with the abaya, and have male guardians who dictate what they can do, from studying to travelling and even undergoing medical procedures.

Amy Duval uses slipcase ceramic with a painted background in her piece for the Collective Unconscious art exhibit at KPU. (Paula Aguilar).

For another artist, Keith Harris, finding his identity and converting hybridity and mixed ethnicity through symbolic objects was the key to his work. Each of his pieces is a symbol for the hip-hop subculture which Harris has found is a vital part of his identity.

Artist Amy Duval works with slipcast ceramics. Unlike most other mediums, slipcast ceramics are done by taking found objects—in Duval’s case, car parts such as axles—and making successive plaster molds with clay to recreate the object. When Amy started as a painter at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, she decided to add her copies to a painted background to create a personal narrative.

The artists named the exhibit Collective Unconscious because, even though they are a collective of artists working together in a shared space, each of their final works are wildly different.

“We work as a class, and we inspire each other every day,” says Alsaif. “We work together, but then we create totally different work from our experience.”

As of this year, the art department at KPU will no longer be funding their student grad exhibit in April. Although there is word that the faculty will be able to contribute funding for the show, the soon-to-be alumni don’t know how much money will be offered, or if there will be an on-campus location reserved for the exhibit.

“We have to fundraise, and not really work on our art,” says Harris. “We can’t really say anything, but we just have to suck it up I guess. But it’s really not fair.”

In order to generate the funds needed for the grad show, the fourth-year art students have been throwing parties and holding bake sales, and have a GoFundMe page where friends and patrons can contribute.

“It’s really frustrating,” says student artist Hailey Logan. “We’ve fundraised a little bit, but we still don’t have enough.”