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Elvira Finnigan and Lisa Wood: Cafeteria II

Gallery 1C03


March 2 – April 8, 2017

Exhibit reception & artists’ talks: Thursday, March 2, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at Gallery 1C03

Publication: Cafeteria Single Pages [PDF 32 MB]
                    Cafeteria Double Page Reader Spreads [PDF 32 MB]


Cafeteria II is an exhibition of paintings, photographs and mixed media sculptures created by Manitoba artists Elvira Finnigan and Lisa Wood that examines the culture of the university cafeteria. Finnigan and Wood explore the dynamics of eating together and question how the experience of sharing a meal might be recorded and remembered. The show is a follow-up to last year’s collaborative, process-based exhibition, Cafeteria, when the artists transformed Gallery 1C03 into a temporary dining hall and recorded participants eating their lunch together.

In 2016, Wood used time-lapse photographs of cafeteria diners to create drawings and painted studies of them in mid-bite and in conversation with one another. These smaller pieces have been re-worked for Cafeteria II into three large, double-sided oil on mylar paintings that are suspended in the gallery, invoking memories of the lunch gathering.

Participants will recognize their likenesses in Wood’s paintings as she has taken great care to capture their unique physical features and mannerisms. Yet the artist also condenses time and space, layering her subjects and bringing together individuals who did not necessarily eat with each other. The results are intense views of tables crowded with people who display a myriad of gestures, facial expressions and interactions. Wood’s paintings masterfully reflect the hustle and bustle of a cafeteria lunch and suggest the spirited social and mental engagement of the campus community.

While Wood employs portraiture to consider cafeteria interactions Finnigan works in still life, using inanimate objects to record and recall the communal dining experience. Upon the conclusion of last year’s lunch in the gallery, Finnigan doused the remnants in a salt brine solution that evaporated over time; the brine encrusted the leftovers, dishes and tabletops with delicate crystals. For Cafeteria II Finnigan returns selected lunch remains to the gallery, presenting them in entirely new contexts and alluding to notions of expanded time and space. Lunchtime tabletops have been cleared and are now hanging on the walls, the crystallized patterns upon them invoking celestial skies, constellations and deep time. Salted leftovers placed on pedestals resemble archaeological artifacts unearthed from the ground and reflect evidence of past civilization. Her photographs are aptly titled Pangea, named after the supercontinent that began to break apart 175 million years ago, thereby reinforcing this concept.

Elvira Finnigan is a multi-media artist who uses time as a method and salt as a material. Her work employs salt brine crystallization to create poetic installations, video animations, photos and small objects. Elvira’s current work focuses on collective food experiences and the alchemical transformation of the detritus from these events. By dousing the remains of a meal with salt brine and allowing the crystallization process to make the work, she leaves much to chance. The patterns and objects created become the raw material for future exhibitions. Her recent exhibitions include Reception (2017) at the Dunlop Gallery in Regina; Cafeteria 1 (2016) at the University of Winnipeg's Gallery 1C03 (a collaboration with artist Lisa Wood); and Salt Trade (2015) at the RAWalmond pop-up restaurant on the frozen Red River in Winnipeg. Finnigan has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Manitoba. A recipient of numerous grants and awards, she has exhibited her work in Canada, the USA, and Japan. She has also worked extensively as an art educator:  teaching teachers in Botswana, Africa, and in the Caribbean; with children and young adults in Winnipeg's inner city schools; as Director of Studio Programs at the Winnipeg Art Gallery; and as the art educator at the Mattress Factory Art Museum in Pittsburgh.

Lisa Wood is an artist, collaborator, and educator.  She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Manitoba and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University. Lisa’s figurative-based artistic practice investigates transience and ritual.  She has been the recipient of many awards and scholarships and has exhibited her painting and prints nationally and internationally at venues including: Actual Contemporary and Plug In ICA (Winnipeg), The Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba (Brandon), and Julie Saul Gallery (New York City).  Before moving to Brandon, Manitoba to become Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual and Aboriginal Art at Brandon University, she was an active contributor to the Winnipeg arts scene.  Over the span of 15 years, she worked in various roles including: Studio Coordinator at Art City, Director at PLATFORM Centre for Photographic and Digital Arts, Instructor at the University of Manitoba, and Program Coordinator at Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art.

An illustrated publication, featuring an essay by Natalia Lebedinskaia, accompanies the exhibition. It can be read in Gallery 1C03 or on our website, starting March 2.

Gallery hours:
Monday - Friday: 12 - 4 p.m.
Saturday: 1 - 4 p.m.

Admission is free and all are welcome. Gallery 1C03 is physically accessible.