August 18 – September 30, 2017

Tia Halliday uses performance, photography and dance as a way of physically negotiating paradigms of painterly abstraction. Her performances, or performed paintings, are a mode of generative research; to analyze, create and pose questions about the body’s relationship to painting and sculpture.

If Eyes had Feet: The Kinesthetic Pictorial will include the exhibition of five digital performance collages on aluminum created from documentation of her performance work. In addition, the exhibition will feature a series of photographs and paper collages created by the artist, which act as physical artifacts of a highly embodied and multidisciplinary process.

To create her two-dimensional work, Halliday physically performs and choreographs common painterly tropes such as edge, flatness, depth and rhythm with the use of the body under dynamically sewn fabric cloaks or “sheaths.” These sheaths mimic being underneath the skin of a painting. Beneath the intricately sewn garments, which include fabrics that both stretch and remain taught, props such as poles and harnesses are used to augment a sense of performed movement, the presence of the body and two-dimensional pictorial shape. She performs individually and invites guest dancers to perform choreographed works in both public and institutional settings.

  • Tia Halliday: If Eyes had Feet, August 18 - September 23

If Eyes Had Feet: The Kinesthetic Pictorial
Interpretive Essay by Kait Strauss

How is dance defined? A performance, a sequence of steps, choreography, motion. A juxtaposition of movement and stillness, of fluidity and rigidity.

How do we define visual art? Sculptures, paintings, architecture, and drawings.

The variances of smooth and rough shapes, colours, and patterns.

Now combine the two and we arrive at Tia Halliday’s performed abstractions. Right away the viewer is drawn to that which is relatable to oneself: the feet and legs. More than a sculpture or shapes on a canvas, these works blend movement and art and showcase dancers “within the skin of the painting.” By incorporating the human form into her work, Halliday allows the observer to immediately form a connection with many of her pieces.

In creating these works, Halliday has worked with trained dancers, directing them and encouraging non-verbal communication to explore different shapes and tensions with the body. Sheaths of fabric of varying tautness and elasticity draped over the dancers, enhance the visual experience. The majority of the works showcase only the legs and feet of the human form. While the rest of the dancers’ bodies are hidden under an eclectic collection of sewn fabrics, we are left to admire the piece, to feel the work as a whole. It ignites a sense of curiosity about the extremities and allows us to imagine the positioning of the rest of the body beneath. Perhaps one can make out an elbow, or a knee, or the luxurious curve of a back. For some works, additional props were used to generate more rigid shapes of broader reach. Though we are witnessing a frozen moment within these photographs, the artist wishes to encourage our minds to experience the journey of reaching those points. By combining dance and visual art, Halliday has created pieces that come alive before the eyes of the viewer. Envision the improvisational movements; the dancers pulling the fabrics tight around their bodies in one instance and in the next, allowing a breath of air to create a bubble, an entirely different dynamic.

Through these works, Halliday has been exploring the idea of a “moving painting.” When speaking with the artist about the creative process, we discussed learning about visual art in a classroom setting. Instructors push their students to create works with dynamism. Work that shows a “push vs pull” relationship. The same principles ring true in the realm of dance.

Contract vs release. Fall and recover. Plié deeper to create a higher jump.

When considered in that sense, one realizes the use of opposition is a major player in both art forms.

Halliday successfully steps outside of the box to create vibrant, contemporary, performance art. The beauty, strength, power, and grace of dancers has been delicately blended with her eye for dynamic paintings and sculpture to create a visual feast for observers.

If Eyes Had Feet: The Kinesthetic Pictorial Interpretive Essay (PDF)

Interested in exhibiting in the Alternator’s Main Gallery? Check out the Submission Guidelines.