The pandemic of 2020-21 has affected many aspects of our lives but for the artists who have participated in CODA, installed at the Rodman Hall Art Centre between May 12-26, 2021, the opportunity to show their work collectively was an important goal. For viewers, in reality, it will be only experienced on-line in documented form. Participating artists are 4th year honours students from both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 cohorts at Brock University and two graduate students who were invited to participate in lieu of an exhibition in April, 2020 when COVID-19 produced the first lockdown and resulted in the closure of galleries across Ontario.
A year later in which artists have had to dig deep into their resources, working remotely and often under duress, the exhibition is a remarkable tribute to all involved, from the participating student artists to the instructors and staff who have extended their support and vision, with a determination to fulfil this last professional obligation, a graduation show.
I was privileged to visit the exhibition and to experience the range of work in the various spaces, from the downstairs galleries to one of the 3rd floor studio spaces. Rodman Hall Art Centre provides the viewer with a unique range of experiences set within this mid-19th century Victorian home once owned by Thomas Rodman Merritt, son of William Hamilton Merritt, builder of the First and Second Welland Canals. Converted into a gallery in 1960 and expanded in 1961 and 1975 respectively, the Rodman Hall Art Centre established itself as one of two stalwarts including the Nagara Artists Centre dedicated to programming and exhibiting contemporary art. These fourteen student artists extend that legacy, if lamentably for the last time as Rodman Hall has been sold to a local developer.
Derek J.J. Knight
Associate Professor, Visual Arts