Myken McDowell– Space Talk

Myken McDowell– Space Talk

Exhibition Opening January 28, 7pm – 9pm  

Myken McDowell– Space Talk

What if buildings aren’t necessarily inanimate?

What if our houses—the spaces we busy ourselves filling up with memories—have, in turn, been forming memories of their own?

What if, all this time, the walls have been talking?

These are the questions that gnawed away at me as I looked through the stuff left at the end of my grandmother’s life: a Ray Stevens 45 called Everything Is Beautiful; a pink-toned depression-era glass candy jar; a love letter from her college boyfriend; her late husband’s car registration. Trash, probably. But vibrant trash. It’s curious what can take on a peculiar, emotional weight when navigating what’s worth keeping and what’s not—when making sense of what remains.

To my surprise, when the job of sorting her personal effects was done, the house was still full of my grandmother’s absence. That led me to accept an invitation to engage in research at Musashino Art University in Tokyo (there are so many empty houses in Japan they have a specific word for the phenomenon—akiya). There, the confluence of trapped memories and unoccupied spaces began to stand out even more. I returned to Canada and continued to seek out unoccupied houses. I wanted to look at, and listen to, absence. Because, while the akiya phenomenon may be specific to Japan, questions concerning the boundaries between memory/identity and domestic spaces are not. The margin is blurry everywhere.

Using The Dead and Dying Ghost Towns Journal: Featuring Southeast Alberta (Volume 2) by Frank W. Anderson as my starting point and field guide, I went to Winnifred, Whitla, Orion, Manyberries, Brant, and Bow City to discover what remains.

The prints, videos, and musical accompaniment by Tomáš Andel on display is a sampling of what I found. Taken together, I hope that the work offers a fresh perspective on space memory and provides room for the walls, chairs, and carpets to talk loud enough for us to finally hear.

Myken McDowell is a visual artist and educator based in Edmonton (Treaty 6). Rooted in print and full of questions about memory, place, and their influence on one another, her interdisciplinary artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally and has earned numerous scholarships and awards like the Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s (SSHRC-CGSM), the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Visual Arts and New Media Project Grant, and most recently, the Canada Council for the Arts Research and Creation Grant. She likes to take pictures of empty spaces and collect other people’s love letters. She’s also the Printshop and Programs Coordinator at the Society of Northern Alberta Printmakers.


Date:January 28th, 2023  -  March 25th, 2023

Location:Casa - Project Space

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The cover of the Spring/Summer 2024 Casa Program Guide with a marigold cover and paper flower collage.

Casa Program Guide

The Casa Program Guide is produced three times a year; Winter, Spring/Summer and Fall. Inside the guide find listings for the upcoming class and workshop schedule, upcoming exhibitions at The Gallery, information about artists in residence and seasonal events in the building. Program guides are free. Pick-up guides at Casa or at facilities throughout the city.