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Photos courtesy Candace Horsburgh-Gunsolley

ACAD’s Candace Horsburgh-Gunsolley aims to challenge perceptions of beauty

By Jen Sidorova, March 23 2018 —

Candace Horsburgh-Gunsolley is a local Albertan artist. Born in Grande Prairie, she describes her style as conceptual. This year, she’s graduating from the Alberta College of Art + Design. Horsburgh-Gunsolley spent her entire childhood moving from one place to another because of her father’s job. She was born in Canada but grew up in Australia, Malaysia, Scotland and South Africa. Because of this diverse life experience, Horsburgh-Gunsolley’s projects are often related to the concept of human identities regardless of religion, race or culture.

She identifies herself as a feminist and often creates projects that relate to different aspects of femininity. Her most recent sculptures are united into a project called Faceless Paper People.

Faceless Paper People consists of four figurative sculptures featuring creative names — “Think Pink,” “Recovering Body Image,” “Docile Body” and “Recycled Body Image.” The figures are made out of art magazines. They are headless and do not have limbs.

The distorted, underdeveloped mannequin bodies were created with the clear intention of challenging the idealized body image promoted by the very fashion magazines they’re comprised of. Despite the distortions, Faceless Paper People is reminiscent of Venus de Milo, which symbolizes ideal female body proportions in an ancient culture. The facelessness was intended to escape such concrete, realistic images, since the artist was looking specifically for abstract representation.

While working on Faceless Paper People, Horsburgh-Gunsolley applied the paper layer by layer, a process she says was similar to cutting and layering hair. On a less physical note, she calls Faceless Paper People “vessels that carry knowledge.”

Besides Faceless Paper People, another Horsburgh-Gunsolley project, Life and Death, includes a 3.5-by-3.5-foot sculpture made of human hair. “Big Wig consists of human hair that the artist collected for over 10 years.

“Big Wig” is shaped as a human head and is also conceptually designed to distort the human body. Horsburgh-Gunsolley pays attention to the audience’s responses to this sculpture, often with reactions of disgust towards the unnatural and unclean presentation.

This is why projects such as “Big Wig” suit an art gallery setting rather than an art store. According to Horsburgh-Gunsolley, Faceless Paper People is more commercial art than “Big Wig.” When asked about why her composition is called Life and Death, she says that it reflects the fleeting nature of life and the effect of aging on body image.

Horsburgh-Gunsolley’s projects are an impressive critique of beauty and aging. Enjoy more images of Faceless Paper People and Life and Death below, and don’t hesitate to stroll through the ACAD campus to enjoy the creative endeavors of Calgary’s own talent.

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