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THE NEXT 7 DAYS:     EVENTS (19)     +     OPENINGS (11)     +     DEADLINES (6)     +     CLOSINGS (13)
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Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien, She Remembers Me, 2017, archival pigment print, (photograph of a collaborative clay sculpture installation), 160 x 106 cm.

LifeCycle Conversations
Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien

Curatorial collaborator: Judith Parker

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Exhibition Dates: Thursday, November 8, 2018 to Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Death Café: Wednesday, November 21, from 5:00 to 7:45 pm, in the exhibition.
Death Café is an opportunity to talk about all aspects of death over a cup of tea, coffee and cake. Seats are limited, RSVP to reserve a place:
Information: or

Artist’s Tour and Catalogue Launch: Sunday, December 2 at 2:00 pm

Curator’s Talk: Sunday, January 6 at 2:00 pm

Karsh-Masson Gallery, Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave West, Ottawa, K1P 1J1
Open daily 9 am to 8 pm, including holidays.
Free admission. Wheelchair accessible.

LifeCycle Conversations, a two-person collaborative exhibition inspired by the theme of memento mori – a reminder of human fragility, mortality and the inevitability of death. In traditional Western painting it is represented symbolically by flowers, fruit and other objects, but here memento mori has been transposed by Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien into immersive installations.

This is the first time that Barbara Brown (photography) and Cynthia O’Brien (clay sculpture) have chosen to work in a collaborative manner – their new works are the fruit of their combined artistic vision. Though the artists work in different media, both employ the changing beauty and delicacy of plants and flowers as a commemorative act and as an observance of transience, loss, memory, decline and rejuvenation in all living things. Brown and O’Brien’s installations also reflect the emotional impact that working as artists in a long-term care residence, where they befriend individuals who are near the end of their lives, has had. Their work reveals profound insights gained from this experience.

I Am Made of Her and She Remembers Me, 2017, are complementary twin photographs. Both depict an installation jointly conceived and created, set in a late autumn landscape touched by the first traces of snow. Each photograph pictures a body silhouette lying on the forest floor shaped by a profusion of neutral-coloured clay leaves, blossoms, pods and seeds that evoke an enfolded body or departed spirit. Spatially, the two images are the inverse of one another. I Am Made of Her references the deceased body’s return to the earth; its shroud-like silhouette is a closed, protected figure shaped by white, cream and bleached-bone sculpted plant forms, both real and imagined. She Remembers Me also references the body’s return; the ‘departed spirit’ is an open, joyous form whose plant parts radiate outwards releasing the corpse and spirit back into the embrace of thick moss, pine needles, ancient granite, lake and nurturing earth. In a contrary twist, the abundant, ever-beautiful clay flora – some arranged in upright clusters – give the impression of vivacity and growth rather than decomposing material from a compost heap. The two silhouettes – earthly and primordial – embody the fundamental connection between human beings and the natural world, referencing the cycle of decay and rebirth of all living matter from which humans are composed and to which we return upon death.

Catalogue excerpt - Judith A. Parker

Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien, I Am Made of Her, 2017, archival pigment print, (photograph of a collaborative clay sculpture installation), 160 x 106 cm.


Barbara Brown’s recent exhibitions include Red Oak Labyrinth, an outdoor installation in Beyond the Edge: Artists’ Gardens, Experimental Farm, Ottawa, 2014 (Canadensis Botanical Garden Society), and Desire for Acadia, a solo exhibition at David Kaye Gallery, Toronto, 2018 (Contact Photography Festival). Residencies include Kingsbrae International Residence for the Arts, Saint Andrews, NB, 2017; the Art Collaborative Residency, Jaipur, India, 2017; and Alchemy: An Artist-Led Residency, Hillier, ON, 2018. Recent grants include support from the Ontario Arts Council.

Cynthia O’Brien’s clay sculpture is collected by the Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan, the Canada Council Art Bank and the City of Ottawa. O’Brien’s recent grants include the Explore and Create Program, Canada Council for the Arts, 2018 and Arts Funding, City of Ottawa, 2015. Residencies include Tanks Arts Centre, Australia, 2012; Watershed, USA, 2013; Ayatana Artists’ Research Program and CPAWS-OV Dumoine River Art Camp, Quebec, 2017; and MASS MoCA, USA, 2018.

Judith A. Parker is a curator and art historian. Exhibitions include: co-curator, Beyond the Edge: Artists’ Gardens, Experimental Farm, Ottawa, 2014 (Canadensis Botanical Garden Society); two artist-in-residence exhibitions at the Bytown Museum, Michèle Provost – Rebranding Bytown, 2012, and Cindy Stelmackowich – Dearly Departed, 2011; and Freedom of Association: Dennis Tourbin and Other Artists, Ottawa Art Gallery, 2012. Residencies include Elsewhere – Living Museum, North Carolina, USA, 2014. The Ontario Arts Council has supported her work.


Contact Information:

City of Ottawa, Karsh-Masson Gallery
613 580 2424, ext 14167; TTY 613-580-2401
Karsh-Masson Gallery

Judith A. Parker
Curatorial collaborator
613 729 3807

Social media:
#LifeCycleConversations  #cynbobin  #bbrownartist





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