Immersive art pieces, photographers, music, and models in masks – this event, inspired by experiences in the New York art world, turned out to be just what St. Thomas was craving.
Allure was organized by Jaclyn White of Jac’s House (where the event took place), Establish Media, and Laing Studios. It involved four immersive spaces created by the collaboration of local creatives Laura Woermke, Jaclyn White, Karissa Hill, Kat Medlyn, Bobby Keeler, Marty Lewis, and Grayden Laing.
“The work was created to be an immersive art experience, one that can be explored and help us question the traditional way we view the visual arts.” –Laura Woermke
During the event, models (Karissa Hill, Brittany Dunlop, Sarah Noble, Geovani Crooks, Rebecca Harvey, and Emily Moniz) roamed the gallery space and posed for photos by guests while wearing handmade masks by the talented sculptor Joanna Mozdzen and beautifully painted by Pam Vezina. The Anahata Acro team, Rob and Chloe, also made a statement with their surreal poses and coordinating outfits, which came from an acro event that they held earlier that night in London that featured black lights, body paint, and glow sticks.
Many of the attendees were photographers ranging in skill from beginner to professional. Allure was an opportunity for these creatives to test their photography skills with live models in a variety of settings with professional lighting setups, and we’re looking forward to seeing all the images that were created over the evening.
When we started advertising Allure, we knew it was going to be difficult to capture the atmosphere of what we were creating with a poster. To our knowledge, this type of event had never come to St. Thomas, a self-proclaimed “small town,” despite a population of over 40,000. The Railway City does have that small town feel that we love, but we believed the population was ready for an event that is more commonly seen in larger cities. “You have to experience it to understand it” was the tagline that topped the poster.
It was enough to pique some interest.
About 100 people wandered through the doors of Jac’s House between 8 and 11pm on October 20th, maybe not quite knowing what to expect but ready to experience something new. Once inside, they enjoyed Railway City Brewing Company beer and Quai du Vin wine from the cash bar, served by the vintner himself, Jamie Quai. Even those who weren’t photographers were inspired to use the artistically lit scenes as backdrops for their own photos.
“The evening was an exceptional showcase of not only the artists involved but also the community coming together to enjoy and support art and culture in the area.” –Jaclyn White
The first space was a front lit flower wall crafted by Jaclyn and designed to be an easy introduction to the event. The second space had moody magenta and phthalo blue lighting cast on a wrought iron chaise lounge crafted and upholstered by Bobby Keeler and Kat Medlyn of Medlyn Studios in front of Jaclyn White’s powerful 6’x5′ original painting, Fury. The third space was broken into two parts to showcase works that Laura Woermke contributed to the show, which Karissa Hill arranged and curated with input from Jaclyn White to seamlessly mesh with the other spaces in the gallery.
The first part of the third space was lit with stark white lighting to highlight the black and white nature of Woermke’s artwork and the second part’s lighting was influenced by the colours of France and the tie-ins between Woermke’s female figures and the artwork of the Les Misérables musical poster artwork.
There was something beautiful and inspiring about having attendees pose and physically interact with Woermke’s fragile creations, and as The London Yodeller wrote about her in 2016, “As an artist she is to be commended for not only leading the way for artists to take control of their art, but also for opening up the art-making process to chance and the ideas of others.” The fourth space was in the photography studio at Jac’s House, where a stark black background was lit with studio strobes provided and setup by Marty Lewis so that up to four cameras with external hot shoes could be used to remotely trigger the strobes. Lighting design for the first three spaces was created by Grayden Laing.
By having artwork in some of the backgrounds, it also led viewers to question what art is – is it a backdrop to our lives? Or should it exist on a visual pedestal with no outside distractions or additions? Putting what could be considered everyday objects into a gallery setting also elevates the objects in that setting and had viewers asking whether the flower wall was more than just a wall of flowers. The answer, of course, is that the context is the key.
There are intentional and unintentional works of art created all the time – what makes them works we’ll remember is whether they are elevated from the point of creation into something memorable. The lines also blur here, because if you take a mundane object and place it within a gallery setting (e.g. Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 readymade sculpture, Fountain) it then becomes memorable due to its contrast to the art objects and space around it. Once it becomes memorable, it has the ability to transform into art.
Allure was just the first in a series of events that we will be planning in collaboration with Jac’s House and Laing Studios. Based on the enthusiastic response from everyone involved, we have high hopes that this could be the beginning of a new era of art and culture in Elgin-St. Thomas.
Watch the entire event live stream here.