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Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky


13 January - 5 May


13 January
5 May

Curated by

Lucy MacDonald




Saturday 13 January @ 2:00 pm
A grid of sixteen images show transparent sculptures and puddles of melting ice. The recognizable forms include a leaf, mushroom, owl, crow, dove, snail, lotus flower, shark, scalloped shell and a seal.

Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky

Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky have worked collaboratively since 2004. Their work has increasingly incorporated communal aspects of making, such as DIY tutorial videos and virtual crafting bees, in the context of economies of appropriation, trade, and the gift. Expanding on these themes, while also exploring ideas of collaboration, connection, and community, their exhibition at the Owens features two works: the new video installation Solaris, and a special Sackville presentation of the Pom-Pom Jam Mobile Hub.


In October 2023, Weppler and Mahovsky ran collaborative workshops at Marshview Middle School and the Owens Art Gallery, during which participants made single-line drawings, small relief sculptures, and imitative soundscapes based on the theme “water connects all living things.”

Upon returning to their Toronto studio, the artists photographed these drawings and digitally stitched them into a single, looped drawing. They also cast participants’ sculptures in ice, filming each one as it melted into a puddle of water. Through this process, the sculptures were transformed into monumental icebergs. In the video, each ice sculpture seems to rise like an apparition from an inky black sea, only to melt again, suggesting both the beginning and end of the world.

The soundtrack for the video was performed by the artists and workshop participants using handmade, provisional instruments to create wave, rain, and stream symphonies. Woven into these compositions is Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude in D flat major, Op. 28, No. 15 (Raindrop), a work inspired by and suggests the sound of rain. As music of the most ancient and fundamental kind—an imitation of nature—this score echoes the primordial character of the simplified ice forms seen in the video.

These various elements, along with documentary footage from the workshops, hint at the complexities and struggles of the collaborative process and the give-and-take of trading knowledge, time, and things. The artists’ remaking and melting of the participants’ contributions is balanced against the care taken to document the symbols they created, thus offering them a shimmering afterlife.

The title of the project is taken from Andrei Tarkovsky’s film, Solaris (1972), in which scientists studying a mysterious ocean planet encounter apparitions of people from their past, who mysteriously appear aboard their space station. Produced from the memory of the scientists, these apparitions bring up intense feelings of love and regret. On the surface of the watery planet, islands begin to form, also seemingly made from memories.

Meet the Artists

Pom-Pom Jam Mobile Hub

Pom-poms, commonly made using leftover yarn, are flourishes requiring no special skills, tools, or financial means. The Pom-Pom Jam Mobile Hub uses craft yarn sourced on eBay. Reach into a pom-pom bin and you will find a pom-pom making kit. The yarn in each kit is identified by its source location and offers distinct colour pallets. Echoing abandoned craft projects, the yarn is taken up anew by participants, as an internet-enabled collaboration across space and time. The installation features three video pom-poms, one showing instructions, one showing a mock web search related to the history of pom-poms, and another regularly updated with images of pom-poms made and submitted by participants.

This installation, made up of an array of over-sized, multi-coloured pom-poms, is an invitation to sit, make and connect. Part of Crafts Abyss, the artists’ surreal pandemic community crafting project, the Pom-Pom Jam Mobile Hub playfully references online DIY tutorials and ASMR videos. Installed in the large and often quiet Owens lobby, the Pom-Pom Jam Mobile Hub signals a warm welcome to visitors, while creating a vibrant social space around craft and the handmade.

Follow the Pom-Pom Jam Mobile Hub on Instagram @pompomabyss.

Hear about the Pom-Pom Jam Mobile Hub

About the Artists

Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky, based in New York and Toronto respectively, have worked collaboratively since 2004. Their recent video project Crafts Abyss was hosted by the Museum of Arts & Design, NYC.  Other exhibits since 2022 include a major temporary public installation for OpenArt (Orebro, Sweden), and solo exhibitions at Susan Hobbs Gallery (Toronto), the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Arts Center at Governors Island (NYC), and the Esker Foundation (Calgary). Their work is in collections including the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. They were awarded the 2014 Glenfiddich Prize and were the 2022 LL Odette Sculptors in Residence at York University (Toronto).

Top Image: Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky, Solaris, 2023-2024, compilation of video stills from video installation, courtesy of the artists