Art for Trade

GoSA exhibit explores alternative economies

Standing on a Firm Foundation, by Carolyn Mount.

As much as we like to believe we are all independent, autonomous individuals, our lives are all intertwined. We are all connected to each person we cross paths with; they become part of our story. But can more than a mere memory capture these fleeting moments? A current master of fine art student at the University of Manitoba, Carolyn Mount aims to prove it possible with her current exhibit in the Gallery of Student Art, entitled Art for Trade.

Mount uses intersecting lines in her silkscreen works to demonstrate the nature of our interconnectedness – aiming to emphasize the line as a means of forging new connections. Undulating between form and the formless, she creates abstract works of art, demonstrating the subjective experience of social interaction.

While attempting to capture the intimacy of intersecting lives is a difficult task in itself, Mount has also dedicated her time to creating moments of connection with her patrons. All artwork in the exhibit, as suggested by the name, is available to be taken home by viewers. The kicker is you cannot simply purchase the works; they must be traded for.

Mount has accumulated, among other things, a pearl necklace, an antique tricycle, and hand-knit socks through the alternative economy. This system creates vulnerability for the artist—each buyer sets their own price—that will inevitably create a connection between artist and patron. The barter structure suffuses the transaction with a sense of comradery our capitalistic market lacks.

The exchange of the artwork also acts as a more tangible representation of Mount’s exploration of social connection. By setting up camp in different public spaces—such as flea markets, community markets, and on campus—the artist is entwining herself in the community and creating new moments of connection.

“I decided to commit myself to giving or trading all my work for a one-year period as an alternative way of being in and building community,” explained Mount.

“Originally my research was going to be focused on financial debt [ . . . ] I was struggling with the isolation and shame of it all. However, I believe we are not limited by what we owe and I wanted to explore ways of building and sharing in community outside the social and environmental limitations of the market economy.”

The result is a cyclical, almost self-maintaining process. Mount creates artwork to illustrate moments of connection among people, which she then trades with new individuals to create new connections, that are then transformed into more artwork for the exhibit.

Art for Trade will be displayed in the Gallery of Student Art until Feb. 27. All artwork and traded pieces will be exhibited in Mount’s MFA thesis, ExChanged, showing in the School of Art Gallery June 4-12. Trade times are Feb. 24, 26, and 27 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 

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