By Nikki Celis
CALGARY — Challenging the conventions of the traditional gallery setting, Plethora seeks to reshape the mould by introducing a sense of intimacy between the artist and the audience. Conceptualized by three ACAD students, all of whom have industry experience , Plethora aims to provide an alternative outlet for experimentation, allowing artists free reign over the content they choose to submit. This accessibility applies not only to those already involved in the arts, but also to those who have not yet had the chance to break into the art-stream.
“There’s a lot of phenomenal artists in Calgary that don’t have that kind of ‘in’ to be able to [interact] with the [art] community,” says Cassandra Laurion, co-founder of Plethora.
She wants Plethora to provide an opportunity for artists to display their “thoughts, or emotions, or experiences that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise… We want to build a community, an alternative train of thought.”
However, building a community and finding a receptive audience has its own inherent difficulties.
“I think there’s a big separation between the art world and the public world, ” says co-founder Daniel Cleghorn.
Cleghorn claims that one of the underlying problems in Calgary is the lack of access for emerging artists due to a majority of the city’s galleries catering to mid-career artists or to those who are already veterans of the industry.
“Calgary, as a city, has not always been the friendliest to artists,” he says. “The art community in Calgary is so strong and tight, and I’ve seen it expand over the years I’ve been at ACAD, which is fantastic, but it’s hard to keep the artists here.”
Another perceived stigma, according to Laurion, is the belief that the arts is an exclusive community with an apparent existing hierarchy, something that she thinks shouldn’t be the case as “art is so forgiving.”
These are issues they hope to remedy through the formation of their artist guild, Plethora.
“We are looking for public engagement, collaboration, experimentation, and risk,” says co-founder Khrysta Lloren. The most important thing about Plethora is that [artists and people] interact with one another. It’s about connection…being able to talk to established artists, and to [regular people] is really important.”
Like its founders, Plethora also intends to showcase a varying range of mediums and influences without setting the traditional limitations of what should be shown.
Lloren, whose primary style involves paintings that are hyper-realistic and hyper-sexualized, vies to have works of a similar vein to be showcased, allowing the audience to peer into more “provocative, experimental works.”
Although their next show, on May 28, will be a fairly standard exhibit, Lloren says it will give the public a bit of breather before delving into more experimental territory that their following exhibition, 12:24, aims to deliver.
Held on June 12, 12:24 is a performance art piece where 12 artists are given 24 hours to make art without sleep, and, at the same time, placed within an atmosphere where they are interacting with both the public and other artists. Their completed works will be showcased on June 24.
“It will be a social experiment…an endurance piece,” says Lloren.
A call for submissions for both the May 28 and June 12 shows will be held until May 15, where requirements are notably more lenient. Applications can be found on their website.
“You don’t need a proper arts education to apply for it,” says Laurion.
She adds that the basic requirements are just an artist statement. In terms of a CV, they will be there to assist individuals who are still under the process of constructing one.
“How we’re putting artists together is if the work compliments or contrasts the space and one another, that’s how we’re basing the shows.”
For more information go to plethoraguild.wordpress.comAB, ACAD, Alberta, Art, artist guilds, Plethora, Plethora Artist Guild