M.E. Sparks (Kenora, ON)
M.E. Sparks’ paintings reassemble forms from painting history, collected objects and childhood narrative. Her work approaches the false binaries of abstraction and representation within painting discourse, as well as ideas of obfuscation, tenebrosity and the untranslatable. In the painting “Hocked and Hounded” (2018), Sparks borrows the shape of a black hollyhock from Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Black Hollyhock, Blue Larkspur” (1929). Reconfiguring the floral form as a repeated motif, the painting retains a representational familiarity while leaning into an unknown and undefinable space. In her 2016 series “Vision Block (No. 1-12)”, Sparks reflects on the act of looking. Within these paintings, the circular gestures (reminiscent of a binocular- like viewfinder) represent an exchange or mergence between subject and object; observer and observed. Over time, through the repeated process of painting from observation, the recurrent forms become distanced from their origins. They shift from known to unknown, from concrete to abstract, simultaneously obstructing and constructing the space of painting.
M.E. Sparks holds an MFA from Emily Carr University and BFA from NSCAD University. Her work has recently been exhibited at Ou Gallery, Duncan (2019) and Fifty Fifty Arts Collective, Victoria (2019), and she has participated in recent group shows at South Main Gallery, Vancouver, (2019), SiteFactory, Vancouver (2018), Dynamo Arts Association, Vancouver (2018), Support, London ON (2018) and Access Gallery, Vancouver (2017). Sparks was a finalist in the 2016 and 2017 RBC Painting Competitions and a recipient of grants from Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, and Arts Nova Scotia. She has participated in artist residencies in Canada, Germany and Finland and will attend the Vermont Studio Centre in 2020.