Leah Weinstein: The Poetry of Objects
Curated by Rod Taylor
We should not only look at things for what they are, but also what else they are.
― Minor White, Photographer.
In the Poetry of Objects, Leah Weinstein uses everyday materials, objects and actions to help us see what else they are, and in some cases how they shape our interactions with others.
With a diverse artistic practice that has ranged from sculpture to performance, her work is anything but predictable. Using a mix of planning and exploration, Leah creates work that likely reveals much of itself through the act of making. While elements and techniques are often drawn from her years of textile-based practice, they’re used as a resource, rather than a limitation. Each piece is made to work on its own terms, drawing from that experience or stepping outside it as the situation requires.
Relationships are a common element in her work, considered in a way that varies from piece to piece. Components are pared down to a minimum, leaving more room for materials to relate to each other, or for people to relate to the materials. Ultimately however, the work is open-ended, a question posed to both the artist and the viewer.
Ever evolving, which direction her art will go next is another open question. In the meantime, her work here offers a fresh vision of the familiar, and a contemplation of how we relate to the world around us.
Leah Weinstein was born in Vancouver and raised on rural Vancouver Island. After completing her BFA at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2001, she moved to Nelson where she lived for seven years and studied textile design at the Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson. A fourteen year-long career in tree planting contributed to her interest in nomadic structures and repetitive gestures. Now based in Vancouver (where she completed a masters degree in visual art at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2014), she is currently working on various projects including a mobile art space, and costumes for contemporary theatre and dance. Weinstein’s work employs a variety of processes and media, exploring relationships between the body and materiality. Her work has shown in galleries across Western Canada, with a recent commission to create a sculptural performance for the city of Richmond, BC. Her professional experience includes designing costumes for theatre and dance companies, including Theatre Replacement and 605 Dance Collective in Vancouver, Canada, as well as working as a studio assistant for contemporary artist Andrea Zittel in Joshua Tree, CA. Her work has been supported by BC Arts Council (2016); the City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation (2015-16); Banff Centre, Banff AB (2015); Gallery 2, Grand Forks BC (2015); Charles H. Scott Gallery (2014); the City of Richmond Public Art Commissions (2013); and Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance (2011).
Through these works I am investigating relationships between individuals and collectives, inward and outward spaces, action and display. I’m drawn to the spaces between things, places where distinctions become blurred. Garment-like forms act as extensions of bodies that negotiate relational spaces, while everyday utilitarian objects are interrupted for other, more ambiguous purposes. Through these various masses of individual fragments, I attempt to challenge notions of fixed outcomes or ideals by offering up as many problems as solutions.
Materials are full of quiet, unknown potential, both hopeful and unsettling. I’m interested in their potential vitality, which political theorist Jane Bennett refers to as “vibrant matter”. Perhaps they have unseen agencies (such as the power of slowness) and a greater impact than we readily acknowledge. Following their lead, I explore them—imagining, assembling, tangling and untangling—until something new emerges. This new thing attempts to merge disparate realities: object and imagination, actual and ideal.
I would like to acknowledge the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance for support in the production of The Space We Share (2011).