Hurlbut, Spring

Spring Hurlbut, artist (b at Toronto, Ont 11 April 1952) studied art at the ONTARIO COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN from 1971 to 1973 and at the NOVA SCOTIA COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN from 1973 to 1975. For many years, Hurlbut was concerned with exploring conjunctions between art and architecture. Among her first widely recognized works were in situ plaster reliefs, worked by hand on walls and columns as if to affirm the human presence in the built environment. In 1988 she completed a CANADA COUNCIL-awarded residency in Barcelona to study the architecture of Antonio Gaudi and architecture in relation to urban parks. Her work evolved into the examination of ancient classical iconographies in architecture and speculation on their sources and meanings. In her plaster mouldings and capitals, she replaced the traditional formalized and abstracted motifs (dentil, egg and dart, triglyph, ovoids) with representational objects, like braided hair, glass eyes, teeth, birds' feet cast in plaster, bones and eggs. In so doing she suggested the sacrificial practices that might have inspired the decorations in ancient times and called attention to parallels that might be drawn between these practices and contemporary culture. Her work with architecture has been given wide critical acclaim in both artistic and architectural circles.

Since 1995 Hurlbut has extended her inquiries toward other sorts of cultural symbolism. Her indoor and outdoor installations using beds (white iron bedsteads, often in large quantity) evoke cultural practices surrounding sleep and death. In 2001 she completed an exhibition project, The Final Sleep, with the ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM that drew from its study collections in the area of natural history. The exhibition consisted of hundreds of albino specimens, from swans and owls to tiny mammals and fish, their beauty and deadness resplendent in formal museum cases, suggesting an elaborate allegory of knowledge.

Spring Hurlbut has an extensive history of exhibitions in Canada, the United States and France. She has also exhibited in Germany and Brazil. Her solo exhibition Sacrificial Ornament, organized by the SOUTHERN ALBERTA ART GALLERY, travelled to Oakville, Ottawa, Windsor, Winnipeg, Québec City, New York and Montreal between 1991 and 1994. Versions of the installation Le jardin du sommeil were shown in Québec City and in two parks in France in 1993 and 1998.