Newborns/Swaddled by Violet Costello

by Violet Costello
The Main Gallery . March 1 – April 13, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday, March 1, from 7 pm – 10 pm
Harcourt House Artist Run Centre, 3rd floor, 10215 – 112 St, Edmonton

Sculpted from a paper composite, Newborns/Swaddled depicts, first, primal moments of contact between infants and the world, followed by a scene of order and tranquility. Together, they intimate a fundamental dilemma of human existence.

The grotesquely coloured Newborns presents babies in their most physically and emotionally raw state. Large, warped heads; wrinkled, not-yet-perfect skin; flailing arms and legs: these are not the cherubic darlings favored by the mass media, but rather terrified beings of an almost forbidding vulnerability, a nearly incomprehensible innocence. Newborns asks the viewer to confront human life at its most primitive – untamed, uncoddled, unclothed in the mollifying accoutrements of identity. Crossing from Newborns to Swaddled, the viewer experiences a striking change: the harsh colours have been noticeably softened, the thrashing limbs closely restrained, the anguished writhing subdued into peaceful congregation. But hanging over this tranquility is that inescapable tension between security and constraint.

In turning back toward Newborns, the viewer finds the effect redoubled with the corresponding and equally inescapable tension between freedom and exposure.

Artist’s Biography

Violet Costello is an artist living and working in Calgary, Alberta. Born in Morpeth England in 1957, Costello moved to Canada as a child and studied at the Alberta College of Art before transferring to the Emily Carr College of Art and Design where she graduated with an honours diploma in 3-Dimensional Studies in 1988. She received the J.W. McConnell Memorial Fellowship upon graduation.

In 1991, she graduated with an MFA in sculpture from Concordia University, Montreal, where she taught sculpture during her last year. She has also taught sculpture at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Violet has been on the rosters of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Calgary Arts Partners in Education Society (CAPES), and City of Calgary Public Art Program. She has received awards from Alberta Foundation for the Arts, British Columbia Culture, and Canada Council.

Her large-scale sculptural installations have been exhibited throughout Canada. A common thread in much of her work has been consideration of the children’s world of play—a realm where reality readily gives way to, and confuses with, imagination. Her work raises questions about the construction of identity and the nature of representation. It is at once amusing and unsettling.

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