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A Common Land Transformed
Installation by Magdolene Dykstra
Plate Glass Gallery at NAC

A Common Land Transformed imagines an alien terrain, rich with unfamiliar life-forms billowing out of their containers. Inspired by microbiology, I use an aesthetic of cellular accumulation to reference the vast numbers of the human race, swarming beyond what is sustainable.
Like the Romantic paintings of the 19thcentury, this work taps into the wonder we experience in nature. The Romantics were inspired by the sublime power of the great things in nature – torrential storms, cavernous depths, and frightening heights – reminding the viewer of their diminutive status in relation to grand landscapes. I sight the sublime in microbial terrain. The abundance of this unseen universe parallels the unfathomable scale of humanity. The unfamiliar life in my work triggers a cautious curiosity, as it pushes beyond the boundaries provided for it invading our tense reality. Within this composition, each individual is absurdly insignificant except for its interconnectedness to everything around them. Gathered en masse, these lifeforms overwhelm the structure upon which they grow. Composed of raw clay, this landscape will not last. Impermanence enhances preciousness. The things that don’t last demand more careful attention.

Magdolene Dykstra is an Egyptian-Canadian artist-educator based in St. Catharines, Ontario. She uses raw clay sculptures and installations to meditate on the multiplicity of the human race. Her research includes sublime philosophy, Abstract Expressionism, environmental concerns, and an interest in secular Buddhism. Magdolene received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Magdolene thanks the Ontario Arts Council for their support.