The Meliorist in collaboration with the Niche Gallery 

The advanced and senior studio class of Spring 2021 is excited to present Open House in Miniature, a collaborative student exhibition hosted between the niche gallery and The Meliorist. By locating Open House in Miniature across two online student platforms we are promoting the idea of collaboration and encouraging viewers to explore each platform and its new online iteration. The exhibition showcases the different styles, techniques, media, and ideas that the advanced and senior students have explored this semester. Due to the space limitations of the physical niche gallery, each person has contributed a miniature piece of art as a representation of their larger practice this semester. The ability to collaborate and work together is an important tool for artists in school as well as in “the real world,” and the ongoing covid-19 pandemic has drastically affected the ways in which we can interact with and create art. The niche gallery and The Meliorist are two resources still available to students during lockdown. 

We have created a unique cross-platform viewing experience. Below you can read statements from the artists that complement the work they have submitted to the gallery. To view the work itself, scan the QR code (above/below) or click the link.

Rachel Krause 

I am a fourth-year art studio major currently completing my final semester before graduation, practicing mainly in the fields of painting, photography, drawing, and most recently, embroidery and land art. Throughout the past two years of independent studio courses, I have been focusing on projects that tie into environmentalism and ecological awareness. These include a series of paintings stemming from my desire to bring attention to the crisis surrounding pollinating insects and the deep, far-reaching connection that they have with landscapes (and resources that come from these) around the world. My work attempts to examine landscape from a non-traditional perspective while also displaying part of the world of the bee, considering the relationships between the two in connection with the ideas of macro and micro. 

My leaf pieces featured in the Niche Gallery (untitled) are part of my series of modified natural objects which draw on the connection between nature and the body as well as explore nature as relating to mechanisms of personal healing. I am experimenting with creating imprints and insertions of touch and mark-making onto these objects, some of which will eventually return to nature. This series combines two previous projects: my representations of pollinating insects within their immediate environments with insertions of painted aerial views of the larger areas they affect, as well as my already-in-progress painting and embroidery works on natural material. 

Ethan Toews

My paintings are created by layering a large variety of colours in a complementary way where opposing colours get to interact with one another. These colour interactions give the painting an energetic ability, where any one colour will have an interesting relationship with its paired colour. For me, colour signals emotions, which is why it is so prevalent in my paintings.

Based on photos I’ve taken over the years I paint landscape paintings. These paintings are inspired by a moment in my life, which is why I title the paintings based on an emotion or thought, rather than a place. Along with the title of the painting, I include the photo’s timestamp, the date, and the minute the photo was taken. I use a relaxed painting method which resembles en plein air painting. However, instead of painting from life, I paint as I reminisce over the past.

The photo comes first just like a moment in my life. Second, comes the painting, a desire to forever keep that ideal moment. I create fabricated scenes in my paintings that transport me into an idealized landscape where I place my own emotions. The photos from which I pull inspiration represent to me, my location in time. The painting represents my emotions, physically. Does everyone idealize their view of the world as well, where do they place their emotions? In objects like I do?

Chataya Holy Singer

My art practice is based on various mediums to convey my ideas using photography, digital media, painting, performance, and drawing. I also work with traditional Blackfoot practices such as beading and sewing. I identify myself as a Blackfoot interdisciplinary contemporary artist.

I embrace my roots, history and spirituality, which is embodied in my work and motivates me as an emerging local artist. I feel it is my purpose to re-learn, rekindle and revitalize my culture to honour my ancestors. My intentions are to represent the land of where I come from, which is the Kainai (Blood) Tribe, as a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy located within Treaty 7 territory. It is my passion to fulfill the knowledge that has been stripped and taken away from my predecessors. I achieve this by reintegrating their legacy into my practice while voicing my own story. My life goal is to pass on my knowledge to the younger generation as I aim to inspire the youth to continue to go to school and to relearn their culture. As an artist, I will continue breaking the intergenerational trauma cycles that have broken down the Indigenous identity for many generations.

Saaam (Medicine), is the title of my project. I filled a medicine bag that I had beaded and sewn together, with traditional medicinal herbs. Inside there is sweetgrass (sipatsimo), sage (ka’ksimii), tobacco (pisstaahkaan), sweet pine (katoyis), and spruce (patokh’i). Sweetgrass represents prayer (aatsimoyihkaan), the sage represents cleansing, tobacco represents offerings, sweet pine represents spirituality, and spruce represents healing. These traditional medicines are examples of how they have been used historically by the Blackfoot for their remedial properties. Saaam brings an understanding to how these practices are still actively used today, offering traditional knowledge as a way of life while promoting health awareness.

William L. Baliko

William L. Baliko is a young Canadian artist nearing completion of a Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Lethbridge; specializing in blacksmithing, sculpture, and mixed-media installations.  He has a previous diploma in studio art from Red Deer College, with a minor in English. William was born in Canmore, Alberta, and grew up travelling across North America and South Korea.  William’s artistic practice is strongly influenced by the natural world, the concept and effects of nostalgia, the interactions between art and artist, and between the art and its viewer or participant. His passions include travel, medieval re-enactment, poetry, cooking, historical European martial arts, collaborating with other artists, and swing/blues dancing.  Recently, William has found artistic inspiration in Japanese Gutai art, the current Metamodernism movement, experiencing the new virtual covid-19 world, and documenting the effects of mental health in a virtual world.  William aims to pursue a life of professional artmaking. 

Josie Hammerstedt

Trees are so important to the world, and thus to humans. They provide us with so many useful things we see in everyday life. Their many uses include the wood we use to build our houses, the very air we breathe, the paper we draw on, and of course the list goes on. My work has been focusing on trees, specifically their uniqueness from each other and their interesting forms. They are so grand and beautiful and do so much for all of us. I use a cross-contour line to create their form; it is repetitive and loose, which makes it easy for me to get a good sense of each subject, as I layer line over line. The small scale of my work makes the bigger trees less intimidating, and I am able to study their many curves and shapes in a more personal way than I normally would. There is a certain economy to this way of working that allows the trees to speak for themselves. This series also requires a lot of walks outside, and on these walks, I typically pass the same trees over and over. Through this, I am able to constantly see them in different lighting, at different angles, and it reminds me how truly interesting they are as subjects in drawing, and reminds me of their importance as objects


Repetition and practice are essential to the endless pursuit of perfection. Ballet is an excellent access point to this idea, as the image of a relentlessly dedicated dancer is familiar to most people. I am interested in the pathos of continually attempting the impossible, how our bodies fail in the pursuit of perfection, and how fleeting that perfection is. I have broken down the movement of a ballerina’s pirouette and reconstructed it using video, screen printing, sequential image and costume, examining the technologies used to record movement. There is a history of recording ballet through the use of printmaking dating back to 1700. One of the lasting methods for recording choreography in ballet is the selection of certain dancers to act as “memorizers.” Today, video recordings play an important role in archiving and sharing dance. An important aspect of this work was my daily pirouette practice for the camera, and the resulting collection of videos, as well as the final costume piece.

The piece you’ll find in the niche gallery is a miniature version of my final costume piece, alongside a representation of how I would ideally display the collection of my daily pirouette practice videos. The dress is made of white fabric with a sequence of dancer silhouettes screen printed in black around the hem. The skirt is shaped like a cylinder, and gathered at the waist, so that when I wear the completed costume for my end-of-semester pirouette performance the hem will flare out, acting as a screen to the viewer, animating the dancer into a complete movement.


My work responds to the unsolicited commentary and physical interactions I have experienced with the people around me concerning my ethnicity and physical appearance. My practice this semester is rooted in printmaking; the 15×17 inch posters are printed on newsprint and presented outside of an institutional art setting, intended to be distributed and displayed in public. I am interested in the use of posters to create a public sphere as they engage with public space. The texture of the ink upon the newsprint and the hand-carved letters indicate the direct intervention of my hand in the work. The bold presentation of the red letters layered over the black self-portrait brings attention to the harassment and racial microaggressions I face as a biracial woman. 

The poster displayed in the niche gallery is a miniature representation of the larger posters I have been working on this semester. The lettering and self-portrait were both carved out of 1/8-inch linoleum. The letters have to be carved backwards in order to have them read from left to right. Each print is comprised of three layers of ink. The self-portrait is inked in black before the text is inked first in white, then red to make the text stand out from the self-portrait. 


The cabin was warm, perhaps not always in temperature, but warm nonetheless. The wood-burning stove at the cabin was truly the heart of the home, in functionality and how it brought my family together. In the summer months, the stove would collect mindless clutter in anticipation of being ablaze once again. When the inevitable chill of winter would return, the stove was waiting to provide the sweet comfort of warmth. The stove produced an intensely dry heat – I can remember the feeling of the hot, dry air making my nose itch. 

The cast-iron stove fragments that hung on the wall behind the stove were found by my Mum as a child at her childhood cabin. To me, these cast iron fragments signify an intergenerational connection to adventure, childhood whimsy, appreciation of the outdoors, and cherished family memories. The cabin has now been sold, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cabin’s location in Montana, I could not say goodbye to this extraordinary place. I feel a deep longing for the Tobacco Valley sun, the porch swing, the sound of wind rushing through the trees, the abandoned forestry roads, and the warm wood-burning stove.   

Jax Stienstra 

Amidst Covid 19 lockdowns I finally had the time and inspiration to complete this project. It had been ruminating in my head for years. It started by just being a dollhouse but when horrible events kept happening I knew it needed something else. It was inspired by dystopia and my prediction of what may happen to humans if everything remains the same. My artwork for the niche gallery is a miniature living room set in the style of the project I am working on now.

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