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Just My Imagination
Contemporary Canadian Drawing-Based Practices

ArtLab, University of Western Ontario and Museum London,
November 2004 - February 2005.
Touring public galleries across Canada through February 2007.

Organized by the MMB Collective
Curated by David Merritt and Kim Moodie
Coordinated by Sheila Butler

The focus of Just My Imagination Project is a major exhibition of contemporary Canadian drawing. It brings together 14 artists from coast to coast whose work is representative of a dynamic range of approaches characteristic of the most robust drawing today. In addition to the exhibition and tour, a symposium, artists' residencies and presentations, and full colour catalogue have been produced.

The MMB Collective
From the outset this has been an artist-driven project. The MMB collective consists of Kim Moodie, David Merritt and Sheila Butler. Each has extensive national and international recognition as artists working in drawing with working association with the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Western Ontario. This exhibition has grown out of their common interest and markedly distinct practices. In 2002 they came together to organize an exhibition profiling the cutting edge of contemporary drawing in Canada. Kim Moodie and David Merritt assumed curatorial responsibilities with Sheila Butler acting as the project coordinator (as an artist exhibiting in the show proper). In preparation for the project, both curators have twice traveled the country to conduct studio visits with potential participants.

Just My Imagination Exhibition
Central to this exhibition is an understanding of drawing as a self-sufficient practice-one no longer placed at the edges of traditional media categories, but rather one that appears to thrive in an environment less bound to disciplinary divides. The work featured in Just My Imagination demonstrates that the vitality of contemporary drawing stems from the flexible and mutable means in which it is rooted-whether embracing classical approaches to the medium such as charcoal on paper, or extending and blending these means with the contemporary visual language of sculpture, textiles, video, digital media, and performance.

Across the diverse and energetic works incorporated in this exhibition the organizers have found the renewal of a fundamental role of the medium: the visualization of processes of thought. In this, they hope Just My Imagination will bring new fuel to the flame of an idea once offered by the artist René Magritte: "the only thing an image resembles is thought itself."

The artists in the exhibition represent a wide range of practices, from emerging artists of note including Jason McLean, Luanne Martineau, Candice Tarnowski, Raphaelle de Groot and Lucie Chan through to senior artists with established national and international exhibiting histories including Michelle Gay, Alison Norlen, Anna Torma, David Tomas, Cathy Daley, Stephen Andrews, Ed Pien, John Scott and Sheila Butler.

Owing to the organizers' ambition of providing a substantial representation of each artist's project and the need to accommodate the expansive scale of much of the work, both ArtLab, University of Western Ontario and Museum London agreed to house the inaugural exhibition when it opened in November, 2004.

Currently Just My Imagination is traveling across Canada on an eight venue tour, completing it's itinerary in the Spring of 2007. This itinerary includes: The Art Gallery of Windsor, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto, Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax, the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge, the Illingworth Kerr Gallery in Calgary, the Algoma Art Gallery in Sault Ste. Marie, and Kelowna Art Gallery in Kelowna, BC. Museum London has agreed to coordinate the shipping of the work on tour.

Just My Imagination Artists Residencies
Leading up to the exhibition, two month long visiting artists' residencies were organized in conjunction with both exhibition venues in London. Raphaelle de Groot (Montréal) engaged with visual arts students at the University of Western Ontario and Lucie Chan (Halifax) engaged the broader London public at Museum London. Intended to provide community interaction and living testimony to the immediacy of drawing in processes of artistic production, artists' work resulting from these community engagements were incorporated in the London exhibition and subsequent tour.

Just My Imagination Catalogue
A 76 page catalogue has been prepared to accompany the exhibition on its cross Canada tour. This publication includes colour plates featuring the work of each participating artist. The textual component includes a curatorial essay by David Merritt and Kim Moodie, and accompanying essays by Toronto wrtier Kym Pruesse (reflecting on artists work in the exhibition and the current nature of drawing-based practices) and Dalhousie Art Gallery director Susan Gibson-Garvey (discussing developments in drawing practices and exhibitions in Canada since 1970). Rounding out these texts are five short 300 word commentaries contributed by prominent Canadian curators Daina Augitis, Vancouver; Robin Metcalfe, Halifax; Cliff Eyland, Winnipeg; David Liss, Toronto; and Louise Déry, Montréal.

Just My Imagination Symposium
Concurrent with the London exhibition the organizers mounted a panel discussion on issues relevant to the current state of drawing entitled Why Drawing Today. Participating speakers were Ed Pien, Luanne Martineau, Renee Baert, David Liss, and Dr. Gerard Curtis. The symposium was moderated by Kym Preusse. It drew an audience of approximately 150 people, including artists, students and the general public.