When they go to an art show, most people don't expect to see herb-growing systems for indoor urbanites, workout clothing that provides biofeedback, a Skytrain-based tourist guide or innovative solutions to problems in the health-care sector.
But those are just a few of the projects on display this year at The Show, Emily Carr University of Art and Design's popular student graduate exhibit.
Now in its 91st year, the show comprises painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and other visual arts – but it also includes industrial design, furniture, textiles, film and animation by more than 350 undergrad and graduate students.
For the emerging artists, it's the culmination of years of hard work and a coming-out party; for show-goers, it's a chance to check out works by art and design up-and-comers, and to rub elbows with the students and fellow art lovers who put the opening high on their social calendar.
"What amazes me is the extent to which it represents so many different disciplines," says ECUAD president and vice-chancellor Ron Burnett. "And in the process, it also represents the viewpoints and feelings and outlooks of our next generation of creative people."
The art and design school is one of the most renowned in North America, and boasts a list of alumni that includes Douglas Coupland, Stan Douglas, Jack Shadbolt, Geoffrey Farmer, E.J. Hughes, Neko Case, Attila Richard Lukacs and scores more.
Mr. Burnett says these days, sustainable design and innovative materials are key trends at the university, as is 3-D media. On the visual art side, he says, students are putting speculative thought onto canvas. "There's really richly engaged thinking going on," he says. "And then some amazing coloration – really deep knowledge of how colour and canvas come together to create expression."
And even though some works in The Show may look deceivingly simple, he adds, they likely have hundreds of hours of study and studio time behind them.
"People tell me how affected they are by the depth of exploration that many of the students get into," Mr. Burnett says about the annual exhibit, which draws upward of 10,000 visitors each year. "For the public, it becomes a place where they can see emergent creativity from people who are really engaged and trying to rethink the world around them – and produce work that reflects that."
The Show is at Emily Carr University of Art and Design from May 8 to 22. The opening celebration is Saturday from 4:30-9:30 p.m. (ecuad.ca).