Is Nothing Sacred? Inside The Latest Exhibit At The Costume House

Part two in a series of installation-based group shows, Is Nothing Sacred? brings together twelve artists from varied backgrounds to explore the parts of us that cannot be replicated, packaged or sold.

Curators Jessica D’Angelo and Kathleen Barrett wanted to create an opportunity for people who have art to share, but until now had not seen themselves as “artists.” Their call for submissions brought forth many first-time contributors, many of whom had previously felt intimidated by the art world and had never attempted to show their work. 

We caught up with Jessica and Kathleen this week.

SDTC: What was the impetus behind putting this show together?

KB: I was a part of the Hard To Kill group show (which Jessica and our friend Sarah Brown put together at Unlovable Gallery this past September), and it was my first time even remotely showing my “art.” When Jessica approached me to do an installation for the show, my first reaction was, “What? I’m not an artist. I’m a wardrobe stylist. That’s not my place.” But she encouraged me to look at it differently. She and I had been working on shoots together for a while, so we decided to take some of our favourite shots and turn them into an installation. The experience was so creatively encouraging and empowering for me that afterwards I knew I wanted to offer that same experience to other people who may currently lack art-world cred but still have cool shit to share with the world.

How did you go about selecting the artists?

KB: We put out a call for submissions on social media and contacted a bunch of people who we knew might have something for the show. We knew we wanted a good mix of mediums and experiences (paintings, photographs, written word, sculpture, you name it) and I think we really valued those artists whose submissions were personal or displayed a level of vulnerability, or who have a unique perspective that will challenge the viewer.

JD: We really pushed the notion that installation concepts didn’t need to be fully formed, so literally anyone could submit.

Photo: Jessica D’Angelo (Photos taken at Hard To Kill)

What is your personal background in art?

KB: I’m an OCAD dropout, and I make art but rarely show it to anyone. Hard to Kill was my first show and my first time creating installation-based art.

JD: I’m a self-taught photographer and production designer. I learned everything I know about shooting, photo editing, composition and set building from just doing it. Picking up my camera or tools and learning from being in the field and asking questions is the best way I’ve learned.

The art world in general seems to foster exclusivity. Why was it important for you to step outside this notion for this exhibition?

KB: There are so many people pouring their souls into their art, but fear of failure, rejection, or the judgement that it may be met with can prevent us from sharing it. That only deprives the potential viewer the opportunity to be reached in some way. Having an encouraging, judgement-free opportunity to create and share like this benefits not only the artist but everyone who gets to experience the art.

JD: I definitely felt that fear, and it ultimately held me back from sharing my work for the majority of my twenties. No one should ever feel like they can’t create and share.

Photo: Jessica D’Angelo

What can participants look forward to experiencing at this exhibit?

KB: Oh my goodness. So much unique, powerfully vulnerable art from artists and makers at various stages of their careers. So many walks of life will be represented, present and partying in full force. Beyond the exhibition itself, there will be DJs, dancing, drinks, hand-poked tattoos – it’s going to be a jam.

JD: You’ll be able to touch, read, watch, listen and interact with all the amazingness. We also have a PWYC door cover that will go to our charity partner, LOFT Community Services!

Photo: Jessica D’Angelo

What has been the most rewarding aspect of putting this show together?

KB: Witnessing the powerful, beautiful ideas that came out of people’s minds when we asked them, “Do you want to be in an art show?” Seeing those ideas grow and take shape has been SO rewarding. Sharing them with the rest of you will be unreal.

JD: I also think seeing people get over that often crippling self-doubt. To me, that’s the biggest accomplishment of being an artist.

Is Nothing Sacred is coming up on January 25th from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. at The Costume House (165 Geary Ave). 

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