Art Matters Is Retro and Innovative

Graphic Kyosuke Nishida

Art Matters has evolved into the biggest student-run art show in Canada, a renowned two-week long festival showcasing and celebrating student art.

The festival has continually proven that not only does art matter to Concordia students, it matters to the city of Montreal, to Canada and the world beyond.

What began as a celebration of the Fine Arts Department’s 25th anniversary has become a staple of Concordia student life. “When I was approached by the students with the Art Matters project, it seemed like an ideal way to mark our 25th birthday and this has certainly proven to be the case,” Christopher Jackson, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts in 2001, is quoted as saying in this year’s retrospective publication.

The festival has branched beyond the Fine Arts faculty, prompting students from every faculty to get involved. Rachel Dhawan, co-producer of the festival in 2004 was quoted as saying “Fine Arts students aren’t the only ones making art. They just happen to be doing a degree in it.”

This year’s festival features a retrospective publication of the past 10 years, which was unveiled on Feb. 11. This publication contains the program lists from the last 10 festivals, as well as quotes from past curators, graphics and illustrations. It functions as a time capsule, a tangible keepsake for everyone who has been involved and continues to get involved with Art Matters.

One page of the publication that stands out hails from Art Matters 2003. The Gazette reported on a controversial piece that depicted U.S. President George W. Bush as a cowboy, fly down, with the twin towers protruding out of his pants in a boner-like fashion. The piece was hung in the Hall building’s mezzanine and saw strong opposition with some calling it “disgraceful” and “offensive.” Others, such as the co-producer of the festival of that year, defended it saying: “It’s a political statement, yes, but if the purpose of art is to make us ask questions, to think, then it is doing its job.”

This year, the festival begins March 1, and features a variety of different artists and mediums, showcased in galleries and spaces across the city. This year’s festival is produced by Concordia students Stephanie Laoun and Helen Adilia Arceyut-Frixione. There is a strong focus on the exploration of new media, with more shows incorporating projection and video art, as well as sound and music art.

As our perception of art continues to broaden, the Art Matters festival takes the evolution in stride. What is in store for this year’s edition of the festival? We’ll have to wait and see.

The Art Matters festival kicks off on March 1. Keep turning to Fringe Arts for coverage.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 23, published February 15, 2011.