The IRIS Group will be exhibiting in Gallery A from March 2-27. Prior to their exhibition, IRIS at 20, we sat down with member Margaret Rodgers to tell us more about the the collective and upcoming projects.
Margaret Rodgers is an accomplished, Oshawa-based artist, with an international exhibition history. She is also founder of the IRIS Group – a collective of women artists – formerly an art professor at Durham and Centennial Colleges, and Director/Curator at VAC Clarington. She is the author of Locating Alexandra (Toronto: ECW, 1995) about Painters Eleven artist Alexandra Luke, and is published in venues including OshaWhat, Art and Ecology, Sculpture, Urban Glass, Canadian Art, ESPACE, and the Journal of Canadian Studies. She was a member of Heritage Oshawa for several years, and during that time worked on DOORS OPEN and organized Heritage Week events at Oshawa Centre. She is currently a member of Oshawa’s Cultural Leadership Council. @RodgersMargaret
The RMG: Hi Margaret! Please tell us a bit about the IRIS Group.
Margaret Rodgers: The IRIS Group is a collective of women artists. It began in 1996 as a forum to share ideas, offer mutual support, and develop projects that further the overall intentions of the group. Based in Durham Region, IRIS has exhibited work and mounted outreach projects in galleries and on campuses in Ontario, Alberta, New York State and Mexico.
RMG: What project is the IRIS group most proud of developing together?
MR: I think that our International Women’s Day events have to be the most exciting of our many projects since the group emerged. We even chose to highlight them for our 20 Year celebration! We collected objects and writings, as well as took head shots of women, inviting their comments on whatever they wanted. Some are very funny, others touching and eloquent. I documented these in two books that can be downloaded on our IRIS website.
RMG: What are some examples of current collaborations?
MR: Most recently, we worked together on “the Secret Garden” at YWCA Durham with the help of residents there, and through a city grant as well as Artsvest sponsorships from Oshawa businesses, we were able facilitate our activities. Last spring we exhibited together for FILMIC at Station Gallery Whitby, and the previous fall we participated in Nuit Blanche.
The most current is IRIS at 20. This March in Gallery A at the RMG, two of our members Janice Taylor-Prebble and Laura M. Hair have created a fabulous installation to feature the objects that we collected during the IWD events. The show will also include new works by several of us that riff on the objects, and I will have a projection of all those women that posed for us over our ten events.
RMG: What is the best thing about working within a collective?
MR: I am constantly amazed at the ideas that we develop collaboratively and the way that individual talents merge and support each other. I think that a collective has a better chance to thrive artistically through strength in numbers. A few years ago, we mounted projections of our work on the sides of buildings – something not one of us could have done individually.
For more Information please visit www.theirisgroup.ca
This article was originally published in the Culture Counts e-newsletter on February 9, 2016. It has been adapted for the RMG’s blog.