Nickle Picks: Christine Sowiak, Nickle Galleries Chief Curator
Pick just one work as a personal highlight from the collections? That is such a challenge for me. I have so many favourites, accumulated over many years of exhibitions and acquisitions by artists that I respect, admire and have built friendships with. There are remarkable works of art within this collection dedicated primarily to representing artists of Western Canada – so many choices I could make.
But in these days of distancing and grappling with isolation, I think about connections most of all. Who we are, how we ended up where we are, and those people and places that are part of us. For me, coming from the art community of Regina and specifically the university – in the days when art, drama and music formed our own world in the old campus buildings downtown – has always been foundational. When I look at all of my connections to Regina, I have realized the central place held by Jack Sures (even though my ability with ceramics was limited). He was a leading Canadian ceramic artist, the founding Department Head at Regina Campus, and established not only the remarkable ceramics program, but a department strong in all forms of making.
To my way of thinking, he created the environment and remained its soul. His irreverence was matched only by his integrity, he erupted with humour and was the kind of mentor who constantly created opportunities for those around him to advance and be recognized. By nature, he was kind, honest and inclusive and by example encouraged a community of lasting connections.
I chose Loving Cup, partly for the title but more for the bandicoots – I can’t think of Jack’s work without thinking of the bandicoots, the dorky anthropomorphized marsupials that embellished his vessels for a period of time – and because it reminds me of him, humble, funny, a little rough and perfectly made. The unsurpassed glory of Pigasus, a whole pig roasted in the gas kiln with perogy wings and blue spaghetti mane, is a story for another time.