Image of Cellar installation

Cellar: Janice Wright Cheney

Friday, 10 October 2014 to Sunday, 4 January 2015

Curators: Lianne McTavish and Terry Graff

Hundreds of rats created from recycled vintage fur coats are taking over the Gallery’s fourth floor – and we are equally thrilled and unsettled. Fredericton-based artist Janice Wright Cheney’s installation Cellar will incite deep fascination and unease.

The Norway rat, a most opportunistic creature, is thought to have arrived in North America on ships in the 1700s. Replicas of its progeny are everywhere, inside and outside of the stacked cages, behind doors and windows, and gathered in corners. Just as they have fully invaded our imaginations, they have fully colonized the space. As they mass, a common theme in horror movies, they transgress on safe, secure normalcy and threaten the established order, triggering the primal fear of being over-run and eaten by hordes of vermin. The presence of the emerald colour Paris green refers to a poisonous pigment made of arsenic that was used by artists and to exterminate rats in Parisian sewers. It contributes to the already psychologically charged atmosphere.

Janice Wright Cheney’s art practice focuses on the cultural construction and problematization of rats because they transgress spaces designated for human habitation. Cellar explores our belief systems by asking the where we locate the border between human beings and rats.

This project is accompanied by a publication that includes critical essays by the curators of the exhibition and other authors, including curators at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in partnership with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of New Brunswick, the City of Fredericton (Arts, Culture & Heritage Funding Program), and the Province of Nova Scotia.