Luc A. Charette

The Work : Classic North American Snowman
The Subject : Symposia

Symposia

The Symposium art/nature is an initiative of the Visual Arts Department and the Sociology Department at the Université de Moncton, the Galerie d’art Louise-et-Reuben-Cohen, and the Association acadienne des artistes profesionnel.le.s du Nouveau-Brunswick. Its origins go back to 1999, when the first contemporary art symposium was held in Moncton under the title Attention, le mascaret ne siffle pas.

Since 2000, the event has been held outdoors in the Millennium Ecological Park. Each edition provides a dozen artists the opportunity to occupy the urban and natural landscape with ephemeral interventions, permanent works, and performances that invite reflection on the interrelations between art, nature, ecology, and society. The traces left by these symposia have created an open-air museum in the park. Each edition features an overall global theme that uses the visual arts to contribute to the ecological debate while inciting reflection through a program of public talks and critical publications.

Gerry Collins, Les portes françaises, Attention le Mascaret ne siffle pas symposium (1999). Photo : Francine Dion (2000)

Classic North American Snowman

Luc A. Charette’s Classic North American Snowman is an installation that consists of the remains of a snowman inside a refrigerator. Complementing this enigmatic set-up is a wall panel that explains that a real snowman was once inside, before its inevitable disintegration.

The first stage of production of this project took place before an audience on March 9, 2018 at the Galerie d’art Louise-et-Reuben-Cohen and saw Charette create the snowman in order to put it in the refrigerator. At this friendly gathering, Charette revealed to the audience the meaning behind each of the materials being used: the sorghum broom, the Oreo cookies, the maple branches, the Canadian Olympic scarf, the stubby carrot, the top hat made of beaver fur, and the pebbles from the Saint John River. Despite the playfulness of his performance, Charette showed that his choices were deliberate and thoughtful. Each element used in the work is attached to symbols deeply rooted in colonial history, material culture, and the personal history of the artist.

This sculptural installation highlights the intangible heritage of popular folk practices and stimulates reflection on the precariousness of the ecological balance.

As a conceptual piece, Classic North American Snowman recontextualizes this iconic form of folk art, the snowman, by inserting it into discourses found in contemporary art today. The installation underscores the ephemeral nature of the snowman by its absence. It preserves traces of what has been but is no longer, thereby highlighting the impermanence of nature art. This sculptural installation highlights the intangible heritage of popular folk practices and stimulates reflection on the precariousness of the ecological balance.

Classic North American Snowman, 2018, refrigerator, objects and framed panel

Luc A. Charette

Luc A. Charette is fascinated by visual mechanisms found in popular culture and cyber culture. His artistic practice encompasses several disciplines, such as sculptural installation, photographic montage, digital images, and painting. He combines a variety of techniques and visual codes to develop hybrid works that challenge our contemporary representation systems while, at the same time, addressing conceptual concerns such as time, language, and identity.

Charette completed his Bachelor of Visual Art at the Université de Moncton in 1978 and a master’s degree in fine arts at Université Laval in 2003. His work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions at venues such as the New Brunswick Museum, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and the Confederation Centre of the Arts. He was a finalist for the Strathbutler Award in 2009 and has twice won an Éloizes award as Artist of the Year in visual arts (2004 and 2015).