Reception: Thursday, May 15th, 2014
In the UAS + 15 Window.
The Wild Man is our feral double. He lurks in the corners of popular culture, appearing as the good-natured trickster Puck, as the comic servant Harlequin, as Old Saint Nick, and as the very devil himself. He is Enkidu, Nebuchadnezzar, and St. John of Chrysostom. Here in Canada, we know him as Sasquatch. Alternately, the Wild Man appears as a cannibalistic creature with matted, stench-ridden fur, skulking at the edges of society, and as an elegant and romanticized noble savage. He is a figure both demonized and romanticized.
Inspired by this rich tradition, Hope created the Wild Man Appreciation Society, a civil society and personal museum dedicated to the preservation and the promotion of tales of this feral creature. Small and dimly lit, the museum encourages the viewer to lean in close to see the artefacts: giant mittens and giants’ rings; sixteenth-century beer jugs; coins, stamps, and playing cards; a tin type; a tapestry; toys, carvings, and costumes. The museum is also a venue for collaborative public art, where Hope makes drawings and exchanges stories with local Wild Man enthusiasts.
While much of the museum’s collection is composed of genuine artefacts, others are of Hope’s own creation. To some degree the creation of objects is a function of necessity – as it is not within Hope’s reach to acquire certain items. But more importantly, adding handmade objects allows Hope to insert herself within this history. Hope uses art and craft interchangeably, finding fulfillment in the historical traditions and experimental freedoms of each. Creating objects for the museum’s collection allows for both of these impulses: Hope can follow in the tradition of trade apprenticeship, creating reproductions of works by old masters, and become inspired by tales of third-century explorers to create new interpretations of ancient creatures.
Fundamentally the Wild Man Appreciation Society is about storytelling, about which stories persist and how we share them - and about how this one motif, the Wild Man, has endured as a key figure for as long as we have been telling stories.
Emily Hope was born and raised in Aurora, Ontario, and educated at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, where she earned a BFA in 2012. In 2011, Hope founded the Wild Man Appreciation Society, a civil society and personal museum dedicated to the promotion and preservation of tales of the Wild Man. She has spent most of her time since then working on expanding the museum’s collection. Hope lives in Kamloops with her husband, Cory, and their daughter, Molly. She is the Education and Public Programs Coordinator at the Kamloops Art Gallery and an active board member of Arnica Artist Run Centre.