Ella Dawn McGeough


Dancing with Tantalus, 2021
School of Art Gallery, University of Manitoba
w/ Katie Lyle and Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill, curated by Lillian O’Brien Davis

Consider the Greek myth of Tantalus, who stole ambrosia, nectar, and the gods’ secrets of immortality for his people. As punishment for his crime, Tantalus was made to stand in a clear pool where water receded before he could drink, underneath trees laden with fruit that forever escaped his grasp. Touching leaves traces, often more lasting than originally imagined, but the absence of touch builds both anticipation and desire.

Dancing with Tantalus engages qualities of contact—between people, surfaces, and objects—to examine haptic intimacy and explore the causal relationship between artworks and the many structures that make contact with them—physically, intellectually, emotionally, institutionally, and historically.

This exhibition develops from Greener than Grass at Susan Hobbs Gallery in 2020.

My works in the exhibition expand upon the ongoing “_~form_” series to a selection of throw pillows and blankets  (dream~forms_idle) and copper sheets (space~forms_currency).

Further Reading:
Clean Hands, Lillian’s exhibition text.

Memorial for the Present is the Future of the Past_“forms”, 2020
Gales Gallery, York University

Greener than Grass, 2020
Susan Hobbs Gallery
w/ Katie Lyle, curated by Lillian O’Brien Davis

This two-person exhibition engages qualities of contact—between people, surfaces, and objects—to examine haptic intimacy and explore the causal relationship between artworks and the many structures that make contact with them (physically, intellectually, emotionally, institutionally, historically). Over two-years, Lillian curated the project through a series of collaborative conversations orbiting around desire and reverberations of touch in its various manifestations.

My sculptural works expand upon the ongoing “_~form_” series to include castings of my basement’s uneven concrete floor (site~forms_foundation); a selection of throw pillows and blankets as markers of cessation (dream~forms_idle); and copper sheets that record impressions developed during transient gatherings of many entities (space~forms_currency). Each finds temporary support through various found materials.

A subsequent iteration of the collaboration entitled, Dancing with Tantalus will include work by Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill and be presented at School of Art Gallery, Winnipeg from January - March 2021.

Further Reading:
Stranger Within, Lillian’s exhibition text.
FrameWork 11/20, a beautiful response by Simon Fuh.

She changes everything She touches and everything She touches changes (luna), 8 July 2019

This collaborative project with Faith La Rocque offered a conversational follow-up to our 2017 event, She changes everything She touches and everything She touches changes (Vanessa), both were hosted by Moire’s Catwalk.

Link to an associated Luna Reader.

Influenced by the Luna moth (Actias luna), the aim of this evening event was to embody a more sympathetic relationship to lepidoptera. We created UV and mercury bulb light sculptures to attract moths to our gathering.  Guests included members of the High Park Moth Study, landscape architects, a florist, artists, naturalists, and curators.

The event commenced with a welcome libation while encouraging everyone to turn off their phones to (potentially) reduce electromagnetic frequencies/radiation (EMF/EMR) which are posited to interfere with pollinator navigation. Happily, everyone agreed. We followed with a site acknowledgment and an informal collaborative drawing activity in pairs. Using various field guides, including the Peterson Field Guide to Insects of North America , one person verbally described an insect while another drew it based solely on the communicated description (i.e. without ever seeing it); after, the participants switched roles. Eating followed drawing. We served a green, planty-dinner grown by local farmers and moonshine cocktails infused with bee-balm from the garden. For dessert we ate artisanal bergamot ice cream made by Faith’s partner, Chris. As dusk settled, Ella read The Man-Moth, a poem by Elizabeth Bishop inspired by a typo, a slip in communication: Man-Moth: Newspaper misprint for “mammoth”. The poem follows the title character’s attempt to scale the walls of the sky on his way to the moon. 

After dark, our group donned silver thermal safety ponchos and congregated around the light sculptures to begin observing our moth visitors. Envelope within this protective cocoon of reflective material, the ponchos were intended to open lines of sympathetic communication between our human guests and the light-sensitive moths. This material is also sometimes worn by internet-proponents to ward off EMF/EMR.

Thank you to all of our guests, particularly David Beadle and Taylor Leedahl for sharing their knowledge, and to Aryen Hoekstra and Chris Stopa.

Space~forms_turn around/bright eyes, 2019
w/ Stefana Fratila and Kiko Sounds
AGYU Vitrines

There was once a picnic on its surface, this pearl, this orange moon, this acoustic mirror, this exquisite corpseour salad dressing splashed, wine glasses left their rings, and someone spilled the salt. Feeling spacey, bodies shifted position from beings to becomings and good vibrations overflowed. As sound rounds corners, they move beyond the limits of analysis and cross distances of difference. Until, in a sensational zone of resonant affinity, they float—tethered—together into a dazzling array of particles, bursts, and clusters.

The copper works on view were conceived and developed alongside audiowork co-produced by Stefana Fratila and Kiko Sounds that filled the breezeway outside of the Art Gallery of York University from May - August 2019 with the ambient sounds of crystal bowl tuning across three, non-synced tactile transducer speakers (sound exciters) attached directly to the glass windows of three gallery-vitrines. Exploring the roles of ceasura and aleatoriality in composition across both sound and visual art, this project was produced in tight conversation with curator Katarina Veljovic, for her exhibition On Pause

Listen to an approxamation of the sound bath developed by Stefana and Kiko.