Cheryl Pagurek (BFA '90)

Photo of Cheryl Pagurek

Several aspects of the Queen’s BFA program were a great fit for me. Being part of a small class was meaningful and enriching. I enjoyed how learning was structured into modules of several weeks focusing on one medium or project. This time to work so intensively was good preparation for graduate work and working life as a practising artist. The BFA trips to New York were also mind-broadening highlights of the program, and I went more than once. Throughout my time at Queen’s I volunteered as a docent in the education department at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, leading gallery tours and art workshops in the studio. This experience eventually led to work teaching at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and elsewhere. I also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to take many art history and art theory courses at Queen’s, and this background gave me a strong academic basis on which to continue exploring theoretical issues while attending the MFA program at the University of Victoria. 

While at Queen’s I focused on sculpture and printmaking, and then majored in sculpture. The approach to working and thinking developed during these years, as well as the formal grounding, have stayed with me and continue to influence me, even as my work has become more conceptual in nature.  Following graduation from Queen’s, I entered the MFA program at UVic, where I began by working in sculpture and installation. While initially using photography to document ephemeral sculptural installations, my interest in the medium grew to the point that much of my work is now photo-based. My background in sculpture influenced the way I have approached photographs as just another material with which to freely construct and build. Over the years I have cut, glued, sewn, shaped, and made sculptures out of photographs, eventually coming to work digitally. These methods of working have allowed me to interweave many layers of contrasting but interconnected elements. When the passage of time became important subject matter, I introduced durational time into my work using video. My working method in video, as in my photo-based work, often builds up many layers to create a cohesive whole.

Since graduating from U Vic my works have appeared in gallery exhibits and screenings across Canada, including Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery (Halifax), Patrick Mikhail Gallery (Ottawa), Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, Vu (Québec), Gallery 44 (Toronto), AKA Gallery (Saskatoon), Stem Cell: Subterranean Edmonton Media Arts Festival, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, as well as at Woman Made Gallery (Chicago). In 2011 I installed a public art commission, Currents, a permanent outdoor art video display, at an Ottawa transit station. I recently participated in Ottawa’s inaugural Nuit Blanche with a collaborative video installation entitled Flashcards. My work is in public and private collections, including Foreign Affairs Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Ottawa Art Gallery and the City of Ottawa, and has been reviewed in Canadian, American and British publications. I am represented in Ottawa by Patrick Mikhail Gallery.

Many of my works evoke the ‘present-ness’ of the disappearing past by incorporating archival imagery while tracing ephemeral daily and seasonal changes. Many present the passage of time as being embodied in the flow of water; water imagery encapsulates the idea of continual change. Recent works in photography and video employ water imagery within a conceptual framework to investigate intersections between the dualities of reality/abstraction, rural/urban, and nature/culture. To see more work and a complete exhibition history.

Le Mois de la Photo installation
Installation view at  Le Mois de la Photo, 2009
'Currents' video playing on outdoor screen.
Currents, video on LED screen, 2011