Hilary Mussell

Hilary Mussell: The Vermillion Border
The Art Incubator Gallery: March 5 – April 17, 2021
Harcourt House Artist Run Centre, 3rd floor, 10215 – 112 St, Edmonton

The Vermillion Border is the exhibition of the most recent textile and fibre-based sculptures by Hilary Mussell, an Edmonton-based multi-media artist and art educator. The project explores the relationship between nature and human body.  Though the title of the exhibition points to the demarcation area between the extremely sensitive tissue of the lip and the adjacent normal skin, it actually metaphorically refers to the fragility and vulnerability of the human body and the artist’s continued exploration and testing of the body as a container and reaction site.  As Mussell says  “… We all contain openings in our bodies that are our connection to the air and water, and the big wide world. Our skin sweats, our lips gasp, and our intestines push out waste. Heat and fluid rush in and out, and something we typically think of as so solid, is just a cluster of intangible empty spaces and holes …”

The body possesses several meanings and has taken a central form in various arts. For some artists, the symbolic and ritualistic significance of the body is inspired by traditional values. For others, the body has reclaimed its identity, or alternatively the psychic self, deriving from the contemporary values of the individual. 

Mussell describes the body as a ‘place’: a place of experience, emotion, memory, and imagination. In this exhibition, the artist invites us to rediscover this interior realm, the space we each inhabit, through a series of encounters that heighten our attention to our bodies and our surroundings. These works  are part of the artist’s early and ongoing material examination of the body as a vessel and site of alchemical change. As the artist states: “…. I have been making vessels that contain hidden spaces and air. I like to make them translucent, because although you cannot see inside a person, we have just as many holes, and are just as delicate. All of them have mouths that I give focus to and make the nerve endings stitch by stitch …”  For Hilary Mussell, the body is a container for perception and a unique place for personal journeys.


Artist’s Biography

Hillary Mussell is an Edmonton-based multi-media artists and educator.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Alberta (2012) and has been recipient of numerous scholarships and grants from the Edmonton Community Foundation and the Edmonton Arts Council. Her impressive body of works has been presented in several exhibition projects and selected for the Public Art Program in Edmonton (presented at various LRT transit stations) and in Shafer, Minnesota (Franconia Sculpture Park).   Hilary Mussel has been active as an art educator at numerous arts and cultural organizations in Edmonton (Nina Haggerty Center for the Arts, Art Gallery of Alberta, Art Gallery of St. Albert) and participated in several artist residencies (Ortona Armoury in Edmonton, Creative Practices Institute in Edmonton, and Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, Minnesota, USA).



Top Image: Opening (Detail), 2019, wire, fabric
Courtesy of the Artist