Zion Axell Favro, Bodies Transcending

Mindset: Selected Work by Dawson Visual Arts Graduates

Curated by:
Rhonda L. Meier

Catalina Hernandez Camacho, Zion Axell Fabro, Leen Jaafar, Jona Loomis, Ximena Ribeiro Tamiez, and Alessandro Ruvo present works which evoke a mindset in diverse and playful ways.

These graduates of Dawson’s respected Visual Arts program are distinguished by having began their studies in a global pandemic. Most started their Dawson coursework under partial, or ‘hybrid’ presence in smaller groups courses such as printmaking and sculpture; the rest were carried out in confinement at home, with online lectures and meetings

This was reflected in the work presented in this year’s graduation—a turning of the mind inward, to issues surrounding the self and occasionally family, which leads to the title of this presentation, mindset. The pandemic incurred such a global change in beliefs, values, ways of living and being that individual’s established mindset was challenged, and often changed.

Alessandro Ruvo’s Greetings from Paradise presents the irony underlying in North American’s obsession with tropical vacations. His deft use of the tropical colour palette—blue sky and bleached sand, introduces a counternarrative which implies that the reality may well be different.

Jona Loomis’ representational TENTACLEEYEEGG, deftly portrays objects which, in combination, create a surrealist, playful montage of indeterminate meaning. The impression is that we are peering into someone’s brain, but unable to read the mindset here.

Ximena Ribeiro Tamez also seems to depict the inside of two being’s minds, but they open to reveal cities filled with tall buildings, or computer parts fitting together. Connections is a beautiful piece which depicts the richness of our minds and the experiences that fill and shape them, but pointing also to their potential to bring, or even meld us together.

In the display case facing the cafeteria, Zion Axell Fabro’s painting also has a spiritual theme. Her abstract acrylic on canvas, Bodies Transcending again refers to a mindset where spirit overcomes, or departs from matter. This very open, complex piece speaks to the artist’s confidence and maturity, ideationally as well as compositionally.

Fabro’s piece could also evince a feminist reading—bodies transcending, social conventions and constrictions, being one of the goals of many feminisms. This is why it is beside one of the most feminist works of the graduating class, They never shut their damn mouths, by Catalina Hernandez Camacho. Here Camacho does not need the body—a very constructed corset dress, in taupe satin implies a feminine presence. With a similar, yet striking economy of means, the mouths are literally mouths—with yellowed teeth, surrounded by ugly lips, whiskers, and dripping, pus-covered tongues, Camacho’s mouths encapsulate the ugly, judgemental, and voracious, vociferous males, whose mindset is grossly out of sync with that of third wave feminism, and in contrast to the shining, perfectly serene vision in taupe in front of them.

Ximena Ribeiro Tamez‘ acrylic diptych Body Hair, Don’t care displays the ambivalent feelings many women possess toward their bodies—wanting to move freely in the world without having to self-evaluate or consider one’s bodily appearance, versus wanting to conform to often impossible societal expectations or dictatures of appearance, in order to please or placate the male gaze.

Linking the two cases is the space in the gallery, which features Mid Swim by Leen Jaafar. In many ways, I see this work as contradicting my own purported curatorial theme. This semi-representational sculpture seems to encapsulate freedom and joy—in some ways pure feelings which transcend or exist outside of a social context, a pandemic, or any mindset.

Last Modified: August 1, 2023