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 Evan Penny  (1953 - )

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Lived/Active: Alberta/Ontario / Canada      Known for: mixed media portrait sculpture, teacher, movie effects

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from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Evan Penny is a sculptor, educator and movie special effects artist. He was born in Elim, South Africa and lived in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). In 1963 his family moved to the Northwest Territories, Canada and then to Edmonton, Alberta (c.1965). He subsequently lived in Calgary, Alberta  (c. 1971-1985) and Chicago, Illinois (c. 1986 -1988). His home has been Toronto, Ontario since 1988.
His sculptures are made from moulded silicone, with pigment and implanted hair (1). His subjects are the human figure, busts, faces, heads and portraits. Recent works are meticulously detailed head and shoulder busts at twice life size or larger; and though they appear three-dimensional, they are actually wall-mounted reliefs; ‘a merging of sculpture and photography’ (2). His style is referred to as Photo Realism and Hyperrealist. However he has also stretched and distorted some of the portraits into something quite unrealistic and perhaps surrealistic. Quote: "My interest is to situate the sculptures perceptually between the way we might see each other in real time and space and the way we imagine our equivalent in a photographic representation." – Evan Penny.
Penny earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (1971-1975) and a Master of Fine Arts degree (1977-1978) at the Alberta College of Art (Calgary)(3), where he studied under Katie Ohe (see AskART) and Ole Holmstein.
He has taught at the Alberta College of Art (1982 - 1983); the Art Institute of Chicago (1986 - 1988); the Ontario College of Art, Toronto (1988 - 1989) and the Toronto School of Art (1994 - 1997).
He has also been a guest lecturer at the University of Akron (Ohio), Memorial University (St. John's, Newfoundland), the University of Guelph (Ontario), the University of Calgary (Alberta), the University of Toronto (Ontario), the Alberta College of Art and Design, the  Emily Carr University of Art and Design (Vancouver, British Columbia), McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario), the University of Chicago, the University of Alberta (Edmonton), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Ontario College of Art, and the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign).
The venues for Penny’s solo exhibitions of his sculptures have included the Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta (1981); Wynick/Tuck Gallery, Toronto (1982, 84, 86, 92, 95); The Art Gallery of Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (1987, 05); the Trépanier Baer Gallery, Calgary ( 1995, 97, 02, 04); Galeria Segovia Issacs, Barcelona, Spain (1997, 98, 99); the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, Ontario (2003); Museum London, Ontario (2004); the Glenbow Museum, Calgary (2004); the Columbus Museum of Art,Ohio (2007); Sperone Westwater, New York (2005, 09); and Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo (2007).
The public venues for group exhibitions include the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1991, 95); the  University of Akron, Ohio (1992); the Art Gallery of Mississauga, Ontario (1997); the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2003, 08); the Vancouver Art Gallery, B.C. (2005); the Lyman Allyn Museum, New London, Connecticut (2006); Museum Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland (2006); the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York (2007); and Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany (2008).
His special effects work can be seen in the movies "Jacob's Ladder" (1989), "JFK" (1991), "Natural Born Killers" (1994), "Johnny Mnemonic" (1995),"Nixon" (1995),  "Existenz"(1999), and "X Men"(2000).
His works are in many private collections. They are also in numerous public collections including the Columbus Museum of Art (Ohio), the Albright Knox Gallery (Buffalo, New York), the Flint Institute of Art (Michigan), the National Portrait Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Museum London (Ontario),the Glenbow Museum (Calgary), the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto), the Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), the Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon), the Nickle Art Museum (Calgary), the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), the MacDonald Stewart Art Gallery (Guelph, Ontario) and the Art Gallery of Algoma (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario).
His many awards include Canada Council Senior Grants (1999, 2000) and an Ontario Arts Council Senior Grant (2001).
(1) A description of the process from a  Ken Johnson review in the New York Times, October 14, 2005: "Mr. Penny sculptures his subjects in clay and then makes molds into which he applies thin layers of colored silicone rubber, using different tools and hues to create blemishes, veins and other epidermal variations. Finally he adds glassy eyes and hair -- human or equine -- one strand at a time."
(2) From an article titled "Evan Penny: L. Faux and No One – In Particular" by Xandra Eden in The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto) news letter dated May 1, 2002 . The exact wording  “…a project that would merge sculpture with photography.”
(3) Since 1995 the Alberta College of Art and Design.
Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

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