An exhibition of recent works by Ian McKinnon

Opening Reception and Artist Talk Thursday, November 8, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Show runs November 9 to December 10, 2012

Crossings artwork

About the Artist

Ian McKinnon graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1980. He spent the following decade in Toronto where he exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and served on the board of the YYZ artist-run centre. In 1997 McKinnon earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University. He returned to Halifax where, in 2000, he was one of the first artists-in-residence at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Soon after, McKinnon was employed by the Dalhousie Art Gallery and took up a post as Part-time Faculty at NSCAD University. It was while immersed in these two pivotal institutes of the Halifax art world that McKinnon converted and was baptized at the chapel of University of King’s College.

He began theological studies at the Atlantic School of Theology (2005/06), moving to Toronto in 2008 where he completed a Master of Theological Studies in the Faculty of Divinity, Trinity College at the University of Toronto. His thesis, entitled “Mutual Illumination and the Artist: Dispossession, Disinterested Love and Making Other” won the award for best MTS thesis of his Divinity graduating class in 2010.

Shortly after graduating from Trinity, McKinnon returned to Halifax and his teaching position at NSCAD University. In the spring of this year he officially presented himself to Bishop Ron Cutler of the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI as an “inquirer.” Now in the Anglican formation program at AST, McKinnon hopes to be a postulant for ordination in the near future.

Curatorial Statement

Ian McKinnon has been making art professionally for more than twenty five years, but after being baptized, his work changed. From the beginning, hints of ‘the spiritual’ have appeared unbidden in Ian’s paintings and drawings. But through years of working in the contemporary art world, he learned to hide his inmost experiences behind layers of coded imagery. The works communicated–though part of what they communicated was the impossibility of speaking directly about love, grief, longing, and joy.

That impossibility began to dissolve when Ian became a Christian. He knew himself to be inwardly changed and changing by the waters of baptism and he knew that his outward expression through art-making must also change. He began to ask what the profession of faith means for a professional artist. How could he make art as a Christian?

This exhibition gathers together a number of the explorations Ian has made in response to this question. These works are the direct records of what passes through him–as thought, as impulse, as prayer–while his hand pushes graphite across the paper.

The works are gathered under the title “Crossings.” In some Christian traditions, to ‘cross’ oneself is to touch head, navel, shoulders, and heart. It is to symbolically locate the mystery of Christ upon–and within–the believer’s body. Christ is not “out there,” but here, united with the one who is baptized into his life, death, and resurrection. It is here that we know Christ’s ongoing work of redemption.

When Ian inscribes marks on paper, he is doing something analogous to signing himself with the cross. In his process of making and erasing marks, images–flickering, but profoundly real–appear. An image appears, not because it was planned before the work began, but because it has been revealed as Ian opens himself to the work before him. An image appears and its significance is confirmed by its association with the distinct memories and experiences that constitute who Ian is. What has been buried, obscured, or hidden is brought to the surface to be redeemed, transformed, and communicated.

As viewers, we can glimpse how these works came to be by following the pencil marks with our eyes. We can share in the artist’s sense of discovery by allowing our own memories and associations to be stirred by these images.

Nicole Uzans
Curator, AST Arts & Theology Committee