By Lindsay Campbell
It might be difficult to imagine the result of collaboration between a ceramicist and a new media artist. But, according to Sarah Link and Riaz Mehmood, working together has allowed each of them to create something unique, extending far past their artistic comfort zones.
Link and Mehmood met in 2015, when they were two artists selected from Thunder Bay for an exhibition at Gallery 101 in Ottawa. Link is recognized internationally as an exhibited ceramicist. Originally from the United States, she came to Thunder Bay in 1994 to teach in the visual arts department at Lakehead University. Mehmood, originally from Pakistan, has a background in engineering. He came to Canada where he obtained a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Windsor. He also completed the integrated media program at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Like Link, his work has been shown internationally.
“From the moment I met her, I thought she was very cool and then from the get-go we liked each other,” explains Mehmood of their encounter in Ottawa. After many discussions, Link and Mehmood decided to produce a multi-component interactive installation called Rain with ceramics, metal, wood and projection mapping. The installation will include 20 three-foot long boats sitting in 150 litres of wet slip. Projection mapping on ceramic figures will convey the image of rain falling on the boats.
“Projection mapping is the idea that you can map a three dimensional object and the projection image wraps around it so it becomes a sculptural piece,” Mehmood explains. “We decided that we would do some sort of projection mapping on the boats so they didn’t seem like they are just still. It gives more of an idea of motion, and the rain being seen acts as a metaphor for so many different things.”
In their second collaboration piece Rain Follows You, the idea of motion remains a theme within the art. This composition will include anywhere from one to five sculptures with metal objects inside of them. The sculptures will be attached to a small motor that is connected to a computer with sensors. The piece will have the ability to sense people in space and the motor will turn the objects inside the sculptures to make a “rain-like” sound.
Although Link and Mehmood are excited to share their work with the public, both artists say they are grateful for the experience to collaborate together. “All of what Riaz does is outside of my realm of experience, but it’s very exciting because what he’s doing with my work takes me to a whole other level that I wouldn’t be able to get to and I perceive the work in a new way,” says Link.
“Sarah and I are on the same wavelength,” adds Mehmood. “I say something and then she says something and then all of a sudden it just becomes really beautiful, like something amazing, like something you’ve never thought of.”
Along with their collaboration pieces, Link and Mehmood’s individual exhibits will be featured at Definitely Superior Art Gallery on Friday September 30 in conjunction with the ceramics-based 1000 Miles Apart (and then some) Conference hosted by Lakehead University.