Shuvinai Ashoona & John Noestheden Collaboration

Shuvinai Ashoona drawing on the collaboration at Feheley Fine Arts (14 Hazelton ave., Toronto)

In the winter of 2008, Shuvinai Ashoona was invited by curator Wayne Baerwaldt to Calgary’s Illingworth Kerr Gallery, at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Through Feheley Fine Arts, she had been commissioned to collaborate with Canadian crystal artist John Noestheden on an original drawing for a banner spanning an entire city block. This collaboration stemmed from Baerwaldt’s vision for The Basel Project, which brought together two artists from diverse backgrounds – one from the South and the other from the North. In their first of many collaborations, Ashoona and Noestheden conceived the dazzling work titled Earth & Sky, an original 11×192 inch drawing adorned with crystals. The drawing was then reproduced and fabricated into a 6×43 meter banner, incorporating distinctive elements from both artists’ styles. The banner debuted in Basel, Switzerland as a highlight of the Stadthimmel outdoor art project, before being replicated for Toronto’s 2008 Nuit Blanche. The Earth & Sky banner proceeded with its global voyage, making an appearance at the 2012 Sydney Biennale, under the curation of Gerald McMaster and Catherine de Zegher. One of the banners is now permanently installed in Ottawa at the National Gallery of Canada.

In 2008 these collaborative pieces commissioned by Feheley Fine Arts were included in an exhibition at the gallery. One of these works titled COLLABORATION #2 is a captivating drawing that is meticulously embellished with hundreds of Swarovski crystals. In a crystallized vision of the North, this piece embodies the awe-inspiring nature of Ashoona’s renditions of home, depicted through a family stretching their hands towards a sky cascading with crystals. This collaboration began with Noestheden embellishing the paper with crystals in a celestial pattern; from there, Ashoona employed fine-tip pens to craft her drawings free-hand, merging their creations into a cohesive artwork. Despite their distinct styles, Ashoona’s earthly realms and Noestheden’s renditions of the cosmos harmonize seamlessly.

John Noestheden, who was born in Amsterdam and relocated to Canada as a child, now resides in Kingsville, Ontario, where he dedicates himself to an active artistic practice. His artworks, known for exploring the vastness of the universe and the human experience have been showcased worldwide, featured in the collections of art museums in both Canada and the United States. By blending Noestheden’s exploration of the universe and collective consciousness, along with Ashoona’s fascination with otherworldly landscapes, they have created an artwork of magnificent scale. Their collaboration thrives on ambiguity, experimentation, and playfulness, resulting in a unified artwork that transcends individual styles. Together, Ashoona and Noestheden exemplify artistic integrity and mutual respect, transforming their shared vision into a captivating work of art.