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‘Avian Cyborgs’ show opens at Art Gallery of Sudbury today

Artist Terry Graff began fusing images of ducks with machinery back in the 1970s
Artist Terry Graff presents his "Avian Cyborgs" exhibit at the Art Gallery of Sudbury Sept. 14 until Dec. 17, 2023.

A show called “Avian Cyborgs” opens at the Art Gallery of Sudbury this evening, and runs until Dec. 17.

Artist Terry Graff will attend the opening of the exhibit tonight (Sept. 14) from 5-7 p.m. and will present an artist talk tomorrow (Friday) from 12-2 p.m.

Senior New Brunswick artist Terry Graff is not only the artist of this project but the primary motivating force on the organization of the exhibition “Avian Cyborgs: The Art of Terry Graff,” its circulation across the country, and the accompanying publication. 

In the 1970s, Graff began fusing images of ducks with machinery as a visual expression of the process of becoming modified or transformed for survival in a dystopian world. 

This exhibition of approximately 375 artworks features two principal series, Warbirds and The Pandemic Horror Series, as well as a marvellous selection of assemblage sculptures.

The artist began the Warbird series in 2015 with several collage-paintings of predator birds with combat weapons. 

He says that this series of absurd attacking Warbirds was inspired by the childhood experience of being dive-bombed by a robin defending its nest, chased and bitten by a Canada goose, mobbed by geese after lunch, and attacked by a flock of seagulls at the beach. 

In 2019, spooked by daily media reports, he was likewise compelled to interpret the pandemic’s emotional and psychological impact through the metaphorical visual language of horror films and Gothic fiction.

This exhibition of work by Terry Graff is the gallery's most extensive excursion in the genre of horror, and the gallery looks forward to further sounding out those deeper realms.

Folks may know that the current home of the Art Gallery of Sudbury | Galerie d’art de Sudbury, the historic Bell Mansion, built in 1907, carries its own supernatural vibe. 

Every autumnal season, the Gallery welcomes spiritualists, fortune tellers, paranormal investigators, and other ghost enthusiasts among our visitors: we see dead people. 

Greater Sudbury is also home to horror zombie artist Rob Sacchetto, who through his daily drawing regime thus far has produced more than 10,000 portraits of the revenant undead.  

There’s also a celebration in Graff’s work of sheer ingenuity and the adaptive practical skill of re-purposing one object to bring another to creative life. 

This aspect of his material culture – making-do and making more – is deeply embedded in our own homes, vehicles, backyards, garages, sheds and barns across Northern Ontario, and, if we may daresay, every other rural geography across Canada.  

The wonderfully varied materiality of Graff’s work – it is so obviously made by hand – his serial approach, his incredibly fecund production, and generous sharing of images of his new work – immediately connected for AGS with that of another highly innovative artist close to home, Ray Laporte. 

Sadly, Ray Laporte passed away in early winter 2022, and will not see this exhibition.


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