2021 Artist Award Winner: Shelagh Howard
The Cornel/Henry Art is pleased to present Shelagh Howard, the Winner of our 'pure' Call for Entries, and 2021 Artist Award!
Shelagh Howard (BS, University of Toronto) is a photographic artist based in Toronto, Canada. Her artistic approach focuses on the layers of experience and memory carried within the human body. Working in nudes and portraits, her work explores the construction of the self, involving gendered beauty, body image issues, vulnerability, isolation and acceptance, as well as the ever changing nature of relationships with one selves and others. Inspired by the universality and vulnerability of the body, Shelagh creatively employs methods of reflection, movement and shadow to create timeless images. Long and multiple exposures explore similarities and differences, human inter-connection, experiences and moments, while maintaining cognizant perspective of past memories and experiences.
For this exhibition we are featuring work from her Genus/species series, a body of work that explores the invisible, all-encompassing power of names, labels, and language. Shelagh’s work with the male figure explores a rarely seen perspective, moving away from traditional masculinization, eroticism or toxicity, and towards a deeper position of empathy, vulnerability and curiosity. Through her unflinching eyes and lens, Shelagh asks us to look beyond what is culturally prescribed, and to instead see the universal truths that we all carry within us, wrapped in our flesh but never truly concealed by it. In lieu of traditional labels, the models are identified by the taxonomic names of the flowers they hold. This deliberate conceit forces the viewer to abandon conventional terminology and to decouple any easy assumptions from the earthly flesh on display. There are no quick judgements to be made; only questions that unfold in the liminal space between the seen and the unknown: Should the subjects be named? Would naming them shift our perceptions? Is it our right and our role to cast their shadows into the light for our own comfort? Are they pure as bare as they are? For what is more pure than an innocent flower?
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