Deanna Musgrave and Amy Ash
The energy that passes through or between us, the memory of water, a pulse, a charge, a conduit, a body in motion, a cycle.
Currents links the recent work of Amy Ash and Deanna Musgrave through their shared interest in the poetics of water, memory and the unseen. Quiet explorations of biofields, sensation, and connection resonate from the works that comprise Currents. Watermarks and brushstrokes become tidelines, evidence of time and transformation brought on by an interaction of forces.
Through conduits of both representational form and abstract composition the artists encourage reflection, interaction, and personal change. Both Ash and Musgrave work fluidly between dedicated studio practices and social engagement. While Ash creates opportunities for collaboration and shared meaning-making as an act of collective care, Musgrave works with individuals through energy healing techniques.
Together, through diverse embodied methodologies, Ash and Musgrave hold space for connection, reparation, and transformation.
Amy Ash is an interdisciplinary artist engaged with collective care through processes of shared meaning-making. Her practice flows from curatorial projects and writing to teach-ing, socially engaged action, and hands-on making. Blurring the lines between disciplines, they trace connectivity through the intersections and overlaps between memory, learning, and wonder, to incite curiosity. Amy has exhibited and curated programmes internationally, with projects commissioned by National Gallery London (UK), The NB International Sculpture Symposium (NB), Beaverbrook Art Gallery (NB), and Platform Centre for Photographic and Digital Arts (MB). She is an instructor with the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, writes regularly for CreatedHere Magazine, Visual Arts News, and is a member of the International Associ-ation of Art Critics. Amy lives in Menahqesk/Menagoesg/Saint John, New Brunswick, with her wife Alex, along with their dog and cat. Of settler ancestry, they are a grateful guest on the unsurren-dered and unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik, Mi’kmaq, and Peskotomuhkati peoples. www.amyash.ca @amy_ash_ Pronouns: She/They can be used interchangeably. I have no preference.
“Musgrave’s work has been a fixture in the Saint John and New Brunswick art community for over a decade. Her paintings are immediately recognizable; ethereal and vibrant, they encapsulate traits that many artists struggle to balance. They are objectively beautiful yet wrought with complex symbolism and capture a narrative while remaining vehemently abstract.” ~Christiana Myers, “Peer Review: The Best Art of 2018,” The East, December 2018
Deanna Musgrave is best known for her large-scale public artwork such as, “Cloud” (2015) and “Tropos” (2019) whichare both over 40’ wide and part of the collection of the University of New Brunswick. Her works inspire contemplation and are a response to her endless seeking of the unseen, metaphysical and mysterious.
Early on in her career, she was selected by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in 2007 for the Studio Watch Award which aimed at introducing promising new artists to the public and later included in “Off the Grid: Abstract Art in New Brunswick” at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in 2014. Her work has been enthusiastically reviewed by the New Brunswick media, and she has won numerous grants and awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, New Brunswick Arts Board, Mount Allison University and the University of New Brunswick. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Mount Allison University (2005) and a Master of Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of New Brunswick (2019). Outside of her artmaking, she works in guidance through hypnosis, energy clearing and other mysterious practices to assist. She is based out of Menagoesg (Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada).
Artist Statement – Deanna Musgrave
“For visual artist Deanna Musgrave, art and healing are interwoven. This is why, transformation is the crux of her work and the reason she found home in Saint John, [New Brunswick], a historic working-class city on the Bay of Fundy. This place possesses energy she describes as having “an ancient quality that brings together polarity.” It is polarities that inhabit Deanna’s vision. Her work is an interaction that seeks unity, exuding energy in the process, much like the current transformative renaissance happening here in the old port city.” (1)
“[Her] work has been a fixture in the Saint John and New Brunswick art community for over a decade. Her paintings are immediately recognizable; ethereal and vibrant, they encapsulate traits that many artists struggle to balance. They are objectively beautiful yet wrought with complex symbolism and capture a narrative while remaining vehemently abstract.” (2)
“Often working on the studio floor, using liquid paints to surround, unify and pool around areas of information, Musgrave succeeds in defying a traditional concept of perspective. Her compositions unfold almost three-dimensionally, enveloping the viewer with information from above, straight on and below.” (3)
“Water is the starting point for each of Musgrave’s works. With a blank canvas placed on the floor of her studio, she selects objects of significance: of sentimental, aesthetic, or symbolic meaning, to place on top of the canvas. She sprinkles, sprays, or pours water over the object to capture an impression of the form in pigment. The impression made by the water is like a memory of the object on the canvas.
Using water in the process is as important to Deanna as her subject matter. Her world view is closely tied to the power of water and its relationship to experience and memory. Deanna’s work considers and articulates the theories of homeopathy: the ability of water to remember substances once mixed in it; cymatics: the patterns formed when a substance like water or sand is vibrated; and akashic field theory: the theory that information can exist and be transmitted through energy fields.
The result is a highly dynamic and fluid expression of memory, story, and a deep connection to water. Outside of her art, Deanna studies and practices dowsing: practiced since the 15th century to locate underground water systems. More recently dowsing has been adapted to locate areas of stress or trauma on the human body as a means of healing.”
All aspects of Deanna’s connection to water speak to a single idea: that information, knowledge, and experience can exist and be transmitted in many different ways. She believes that revolution can be ignited from person to person and that can happen in many different forms.” (4)
- ~Shannon Webb-Campbell, “Arts Higher State: The Vision and Practice of Deanna Musgrave, Created Here Magazine: Psyche, Volume 11, 2020.
- ~Christiana Myers, “Peer Review: The Best Art of 2018,” The East, December 2018
- ~Stephanie Buhmann, “New Brunswick Studio Conversations,” Billie Magazine V.2, Spring 2017
- ~Donna Wawzonek, “Deanna Musgrave: Stirring Large Conversations with Grande Impressions,” National Water Centre Blog
Artist Statement – Amy Ash
Memoryscape I, 2021:
Sometimes the important places in our lives can define us as much as the people with whom we find kinship. As much as we inhabit places, so do they hold a special spot, a resonance, within us. Specific landscapes, eco-systems, architecture, or townships can feel like a visceral extension of ones self. The attachment could be micro, macro, sensorial, drenched in memory, or exist within a dream—maybe you’ve been there a hundred times, maybe you have yet to visit.
Many thanks to those community members who heeded the call, contributed a photograph that helped Amy Ash build the collage included in this exhibition.
“The series Mettle uses copper as both a key material in the work and allegory—its material qualities becoming symbolic of resilience. Copper is a super-conductor of electricity, and the stan-dard by which all other conductivity is measured. Within my practice it has become a conductor of meaning. Copper is a memory shape alloy. It will always ‘remember’ its orig-inal form, and, when pressurized, will invariably revert to its original shape. Copper is also within our biological make-up, closely linked to memory dysfunction. When threatened by the elements, copper will produce a patina, or verdigris. This greenish tarnish acts as a weather buffer to preserve the integrity of the copper below its surface—an exquisite cop-ing mechanism. By adding copper sulphate crystals both to the metal’s surface and the paint’s pigment, the crystals continue to grow and morph as they respond to the climate, a metaphor for personal transformation brought on by external forces.” Amy Ash
“Touching Visions is an exploration of the body as an archive of sensation, experience, and action. The work is created through repetitive labour-intensive and experiential means, such as stitching, documenting performative actions, recording my body in plaster and my voice in looped improvised song. It marks the first time I have used my own image in my work.” Amy Ash