Rebecca Jane Houston’s Exhibition My Show in the Gales Gallery recalls youth, nostalgia, and gumballs
Rebecca Jane Houston’s art exhibition My Show presented an interactive approach to visual media as a tool for self-expression. Encouraging viewers to engage in the art with pieces such as vending machines and puppet shows, the current exhibition at the Gales Gallery allows the viewer to become a part of the collection.
Houston’s work reflects her nostalgic recollection of her childhood, heavily based on memories of her cottage. She taps into the innocence of childhood, trying to give it back to adults by encouraging activities such as engaging in jellybean and toy-filled vending machines and puppet shows.
The artist was drawn to the Canadian-made vending machines as an artistic subject for a number of reasons. She was struck by the beauty of their construction. Some of the vending machines distribute miniature clay, handcrafted figurines of acorns, canoes, maple keys, and bottle caps. As explained in Houston’s artist statement, this work is appealing because it presents “art locally made and fun to hold.” This allows the audience to take away a souvenir from the experience.
Wooden, hollowed boxes are placed along the west wall with holes at the bottoms of the boxes for the viewer to look inside. The wooden figures create the experience of a private puppet show.
Houston writes in her statement that the concept behind this piece was to present a place for the viewer to “go inside your own creative space and entertain yourself by doing something you don’t normally do.” The box is a metaphor for the internal place where creativity happens, giving the viewer the opportunity to fully explore his or her own personal creative space through becoming
a part of Houston’s.
Other interesting and aesthetically pleasing features included canoes made of twigs hanging from the ceiling, and a self-portrait mural cut from blue tarp.
This exhibition takes you out of your element and into her childhood, momentarily allowing you to relieve the innocence of youth through encouraging you to partake in simple pleasures that are often overlooked. Houston challenges the norms of the “conventional” exhibition of observing art from a distance. My Show forces viewers not to observe, but to interact with and immerse themselves in art.