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Frances Ferdinands, Coiled, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 30” x 30”, framed. Photo: Courtesy the artist.

Frances Ferdinands: Exotic Landscapes

March 16–May 6, 2018
Reception and artist talk: Saturday, April 7, 2pm
Location: Open Sesame, 220 King Street West, Kitchener, ON

Artist's Statement:

During my thirty-plus years as an exhibiting artist, philosophical, political, environmental, social, and spiritual concerns have dominated my practice, which is constantly evolving. Since the early 2000s, my work has incorporated elements of my Sri Lankan heritage. In 2015 and 2017, I received two Ontario Arts Council grants to return to my homeland to study traditional arts and crafts, including temple mural painting, bobbin lace making, and mask making. I intended to revitalize these old forms through reinterpretation within a contemporary context.

Focusing on the rich history of Buddhist temple painting—specifically, floral motifs and repeat patterning—and delving beyond the purely ornamental allowed me to explore the place of beauty and spirituality within conflict as well the lasting legacies of colonialism and commerce. Within this context, beauty becomes a form of resistance.

My recent work is a meditation on the paradoxes between conflict and tranquility, calamity and splendour, the sacred and the profane.

In amalgamating Western and South Asian concepts, belief systems, and visual languages, I speak from the “in-between” of varied social and cultural realities. The resulting works reflect my hybridity as a Sri Lankan-born Canadian, who sees from a perspective somewhere between the latitudes of Colombo and Toronto.

—Frances Ferdinands

About the artist:

Frances Ferdinands (b. Colombo, Sri Lanka) has presented her work in solo and group exhibitions for more than three decades across Canada and in the United States, and as far afield as Paris and Bogotà. Largely based in Toronto, she is the recipient of many OAC and Canada Council artist grants. Her paintings are held in private, corporate, and museum collections—including that of the Royal Ontario Museum—and she won the Royal Canadian Mint competitions to design the 2017 Diwali and the 2018 multicultural commemorative coins.

Ferdinands holds a visual arts degree from York University, an AR.C.T. (Piano) from the Royal Conservatory of Music, and a degree in education from the University of Toronto. As a young art student, she coedited Eclectic Eve (Coach House Press), a critically acclaimed collection of more than fifty interviews with Toronto women artists. Her paintings are featured in the art books Rethinking Acrylic and Acrylic Innovation (Northlight Press).

Anna van Milligen, <3, 2017. Photo: Scott Lee.

Anna van Milligen: <3

Through March 2018
Location: Open Sesame, 220 King Street West, Kitchener, ON (King Street windows)

Anna van Milligen's <3 is the first installation for Lèche Vitrine: Open Sesame Project Window, a collaboration between CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area and Open Sesame.

Printed on vinyl and affixed to Open Sesame's King Street windows, <3 reflects the artist's longstanding interest in the construction and performance of feminine identity as well as this medium's associations with advertising and publicity. For CAFKA, the Lèche Vitrine project space is an opportunity to support new art forms and to celebrate emerging artists and experimental work.

About the artist:

Anna van Milligen is a Canadian-American installation artist who lives and works in Guelph, Ontario. Her choice of media includes fake hair, faux fur, and dollar-store beauty enhancements. Van Milligen received her BFA in 2013 from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and her MFA in 2016 from the University of Waterloo.

Lèche Vitrine is made possible with the support of the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund.


Open Sesame: Art, Books, and Objects
220 King Street West
Kitchener, ON N2G 1A9

Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–6pm
Open Sesame is a partially accessible venue.

Facebook and Instagram: @OpenSesameShop
Twitter: @OpenSesameKW

CAFKA—Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area





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