Crafty cloudy creations

Ian Ward invites you to come and play with him in the clouds

As a mode of “self-expression” it’s the nature of the beast that art should drive one into a state of individualism and solitude. Too often artists — whether musicians actors dancers visual artists or any other kind — function alone not out of necessity but out of habit. They forget that they operate within a group of multidisciplinary performers and hyper-creative individuals unified under an uncontrollable urge to create . Art comes in many shapes and sizes notably the size and shape of one medium-sized roof and several fully functional handcrafted rain clouds.

Ian Ward a fourth-year sculpture student at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) designed and crafted — with a large team of friends and peers — a life-sized replica of a house roof complete with shingles (generously gifted by Ideal Insulations) and functioning eavestroughs. A collection of 3D cartoon-like rain clouds hover above the roof and from bright showerheads protruding from their fluffy bodies “rain” pours down onto the structure below.

Entitled Remember When We Met on the Roof? Ward’s installation exhibition is showing in the Marion Nicoll Gallery this week only — a massive undertaking for such a short exhibition. Ward invites the viewer to “come — and play!” One may walk out onto the roof stand beneath the rain clouds with an umbrella and become part of the piece. The artist was awake for 48 hours solid prior to the exhibition’s first day open to the public a date which coincided with his 32nd birthday.

Ward a remarkably well-rounded individual completes his final year at ACAD as icing on an already decadently dressed dessert. With a degree in philosophy from the University of Alberta Ward has been a ski-racer an ACAD VP external a forest fire fighter and the lead singer of Calgary band Seven Story Redhead (a position he dropped earlier this year in favour of devoting himself more thoroughly to his studies) . He is presently on ACAD’s board of governors.

The final years of his art education have prompted another tangent of thought: art according to Ward has a tendency to be compartmentalized to “silo” itself and glory in its own individualism. Ward feels that the visual arts can and should be more receptive to “[different] mediums for creative expression” that they should endorse a “disposition of openness and accessibility.” Remember When We Met on the Roof? is Ward’s attempt at visual poetry.

Also on Thursday March 13 a troupe of Passion Pitch Poets and Swallow-a-Bicycle performers are making odes and playing ballads on Ward’s roof in the rain. Involved in the performances are several Calgary poets musicians writers and theatre personalities including Mark Hopkins Kirk Ramdath and Charles Netto. Hopkins who is performing an original scripted piece with Netto is presently associated with Ghost River Theatre Calgary Young People’s Theatre and One Yellow Rabbit. He also runs the aforementioned Swallow-a-Bicycle Performance Co-Op theatre company. Hopkins cites the event as an “exciting opportunity for everyone involved.” It isn’t very often he observes that theatre folk poets and musicians are invited to “work with a visual artist in such an intimate way.”

It is this intimacy that Ian Ward seeks. Ward hopes that Remember When We Met on the Roof? creates a visual poetry that “reveals and conceals in the same way that living seems to do.” It is meant to evoke different things in different people to establish a “playfulness and openness” to allow the viewer to make discoveries large and small. And as with the best poetry others are encouraged to “play upon it to make their own poetry” to remember whatever it is they discover when they meet in the Marion Nicoll Gallery on the roof that Ian Ward built.