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New AGS exhibit looks back on 2 years of pandemic life

Still time to check out ‘Is this real life’
This piece by Karen Ylitalo, who is a nurse, is glass mosaic and acrylic on a cradled birch panel.

There’s still time to check out Art Gallery of Sudbury’s latest exhibit.

Is this real life | Est-ce la vraie vie is a contemporary installation of 25 artworks by 26 artists looking back on two years of unsettling times.

It includes works by Alexandra Berens, Jon Butler, Linda Finn, Sue Gamble, Ashley Guenette, Madison Kotyluk, Martin Kotyluk, Maven Kotyluk, Sue Lampinen, Maria Legault, Suzanne McCrae, Andrew McPhail, Jess McShane, Neli Nenkova, Rob O'Flanagan, Elyse Portal, Emilio Portal, Joey Solomon, Heather Topp, Isak Vaillancourt, Rita Vanderhooft, Sharon VanStarkenburg, Johanna Westby, Cheryl Wilson Smith, Laura Woermke and Karen Ylitalo. Each artwork was selected on its individual merit. 

Gathered together in the exhibition installation, the artworks offer meditations by artists on artmaking during pandemic, mortality, social distancing, sheltering at home, the companionship of pets during solitude, the omnipresence of social media, real opportunities for social change and reconciliation, environmental impact, and essential connections to nature and the outdoors.

“Completion of this work marked 683 days from when I stepped away from my ‘real life’ and back into my nursing role full time,” said artist Karen Ylitalo, in a press release.

“At the time, I believed it would be a 60-day commitment. Yet here I am, still. This piece seeks to convey the emotional toll that comes from communicating empathy through eye contact and muffled voice, while limiting touch and exposure at a time when people need it most.”

“Maybe it's enough to know that the rocks and water are always there,” said artist Jess McShane.

“The granite will warm under summer sun; the lakes will ripple and flow and heave and roil. We'll dip our toes, inhale, ingest a new season with fresh eyes, and the mountains will feel smaller.”

The exhibit opened May 19, and runs until June 26 at Art Gallery of Sudbury, located at 251 John St. The gallery is still operating under COVID-19 restrictions. Pre-book visits online here.