Don’t be fooled by its bubblegum pink tones and cheery disposition. Watershed finds, as its starting point, nostalgia, memory, and above all, loss.
The exhibition includes a series called Forgotten Classmates. Six cross-stitched portraits of children from her kindergarten class that she does not remember. The subjects were chosen from her 1975 yearbook.
There is also a series of portraits painted using intentionally low-lightfast paint that are intended to fade over time.
Many of the works featured in Watershed are based on discarded family photographs paired with anonymous stories collected by Pawliw over the last 20+ years. The paintings, stories and sculptures create new narratives intended to replace the ones lost to time.
Shannon Pawliw (b. 1970, Saskatoon, Canada) works in painting, sculpture, and site-specific installation. Her work is colourful, immersive, and bold to the point of being cartoonish. Both the painted and 3D work is rooted in organic forms and gesture.
Pawliw works in exploratory series that are undertaken with the explicit intent of creating fantasy-based objects built around ideas, practices, and concepts that fascinate her. These ideas and concepts are as diverse as nostalgia, memory, family, loss, and microbes. They tend to involve an immersive (and often obsessive) years-long study of the subject. But ultimately, her work is firmly rooted in optimism and naïveté.