Heather Passmore, "Form Letter," mixed media on letter paper.
Form Letters, March 18 to April 21, 2011 The New Gallery, Calgary
BY: Amy Fung
After ten years of a professional art career, Vancouver-based artist Heather Passmore has gathered her share of rejection letters from galleries, granting agencies, and residencies. But she’s managed to get creative with the results, illustrating the original rejection letters and showing them across Canada and Europe. “I deal with taste, class, and politics in the art world,” says Passmore, whose illustrations have been based on open suggestions from friends and strangers. “I try and highlight some of the practices, and the gate-keeping that allows work to be shown.” Most of the requests she gets are for illustrations of animals, making the letters more accessible to the average viewer and giving them a glimpse into what she calls the authority around “the official institutionalization of art.” Passmore is still an optimist after hundreds of rejection letters, though one particular Alberta gallery has given her the most colourful object in her collection. “I don’t know if they were trying to help me with the project, or if they were just tired of reviewing the works,” she says. “But they definitely departed from the normal polite language."