Mackenzie Colby | Tantalizing Secretions

This project received an Honourable Mention for the Opus Art Supplies Graduation Award (BFA)

Zappitude (2020)

48” x 48” x 7”

Hand tufted rug circles, feathers, plaster shaped in vintage soap molds, stuffed unicorn horn, foam, yarn, Nanny’s lace, Molly’s sweater, Laurence’s tealight cups, Mom’s corks, Molly’s bath mat, fabric, non-slip grip mat, faux fur, polyfill, spray paint, acrylic, oil, Albertan beeswax, paper mache clay, moldable plastic, cardboard, foam mat strips


In these detail photos, I hope you will get a glimpse of what this painting is like in its true, tangible form. Zappitude is both physically and visually hefty. It’s important to me that viewers are able to search for details and moments that intrigue, excite, perplex or disgust them. Reflecting the process, my paintings desire presence.


Zappitude develops from an organic art making process that relies on my relationship to my materials. I start with a collection of things. Some are given to me by friends or family members; some pieces have lived with me for a decade. I begin with no known ending so that the painting can become something with me. In time, I alter, conceal and transform these things, and they begin to relate to each other, contrasting texture, form and space. As I work, I use plaster and wax to create my own objects that accompany the found ones. Feeling the process, I make unlanguaged decisions that collectively dictate the result.

Nightwalk (2019)

38" x 52"

Thrifted yarns, laces and fabric, polyfill, oil paint, paper pulp clay, homemade oil stick, plaster

Nightwalk Detail (2019)

38" x 52"

Thrifted yarns, laces and fabric, polyfill, oil paint, paper pulp clay, homemade oil stick, plaster


Artist Statement

My name is Mackenzie Colby and I am a recent BFA graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Currently based outside of Seattle, Washington, I am at the beginning of my career as an emerging artist. Making work is important to me as a human-animal who thrives in the experience of life, aesthetics, and expression. My practice is based on material relationships and intuitive decision-making that I recognize as similar to the sentient creative ability of non-human animals. I’m interested in stereotypically feminine/natural approaches to “reasoning” that are historically thought of as invalid in the logic-driven patriarchal system of Western society.


My work is important to me because of its visceral materiality. With so much of our human experience turning to digital spaces I think it’s important to experience curious things first-hand. In my painting practice, I use paints, waxes and mediums to alter, envelope and preserve a fluctuating collection of thingy things. One action leads to another in a heap of subconscious and conscious thought, thriving on the push and pull between medium and maker. There is a slowing down, both in the making and the viewing of my work. Hours of time are dedicated to the layering process. The viewer recognizes my hand in the work: do they recognize the hands that made the objects within? Accelerated capitalism distances us from the labour that results in mass-produced objects. I create paintings with the intention of providing an active space that asks viewers to search, acknowledge, and bask in a moment.


Mackenzie Colby was born in Abbotsford in British Columbia, Canada in 1998. Growing up on the beaches and in the trees of the Pacific Northwest, her love of the organic world flourished. A serial collector, Mackenzie has drawers, bins and bags filled with items that many would call “garbage.” She has a longstanding love for simple, beautiful moments. In time, painting beckoned to her. Mackenzie developed her interests when she opted to take her Bachelors Degree in Visual Arts.

After spending one year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Mackenzie finished her degree at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in May 2020. Her efforts in school earned her a nomination for the BMO Financial Group’s 1st Art! Competition, which is currently pending results. During her time in Vancouver, Mackenzie also learned traditional candle-making techniques as a chandler’s apprentice. In her free time, she enjoys contemplative, mesmerizing crafts like sewing, candle making, and rug tufting.

When not creating, you can find Mackenzie giddily peeking under rocks at local Salish Sea beaches or hunting for the perfect slime mold cluster.

Mackenzie’s paintings were featured in a solo show at Emily Carr University in Spring 2020. She has also shown work in exhibitions at Eclectic 47, Schack Art Center, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Mackenzie also received a travel grant to study the master painters of Florence and Sienna at the Sienna Art Institute (SART).

Info | | @mackenzie_colby


Thanks for taking a look! (-:

Sam Schembri | Iconic

This project received an Honourable Mention for the Chick Rice Award for Excellence in Photography

Visit: or @s_schembri on Instagram



Artist Statement

Sam Schembri is a queer artist and graduating student from Emily Carr University of Art & Design. Their involvement in the queer community inspires their research in Gender studies and Greek antiquity. They express modern sexuality, gender, and identity, through reworking myths to expose homosexuality embodied in classical histories.

All media explorations are informed by the previous, bringing sculptural aspects into their paintings, drawings into photography, painting onto printing, abstraction into figuration, and bridging the gaps between different artistic realms. Their studies have included mono-printing, silkscreen printing, drawing, photography, digital art, communications design, and multiple painting mediums, generally combining several approaches into a collage.

Their vast approaches to art-making have allowed them to stray from their main focus to play with ghostly abandoned places through photography and mono-printing. Other works capture queer portraiture through photography and installing collected personal items.



Their recent showing of “Iconic” re-envisioned myths of Aphrodite, Hermes and their intersex child, Hermaphroditus, also known as Androgyne. Sam reframes these associated homosexual mythologies by using real present-day queer people. They built magnetic circular canvases to attach physical prints and materials; as well as screen-printed freestanding mirrors made from their photography of queer friends posing as Greek gods/goddesses in drag.

Alongside the altar-like positioning of the flanking mirrors and the central magnetic canvases, personal objects are displayed. Such as cork-boards of photos, jewellery, tickets, letters, and sentimental objects are placed on plinths to raise their worth as offerings to the “queered” gods.

“Iconic” was meant to be its own space of worship, incorporating personal elements of fetishism in object-hood alongside iconic centrepieces to utilize the ritualistic behaviours of museums, domestic spaces, personal collections, queer expression, and narcissism.


Narcissus & Dysmorphia

A mirror of Narcissus accompanies “Iconic” as an anecdote to dysmorphia and queer shame. As the modern term of narcissism is quite different from the original myths of Narcissus. Several stories depict his admirers, men and women, inevitably killing themselves for his unreciprocated love.


“Nemesis, the Goddess of revenge, decided to punish Narcissus for his vanity. The Goddess lured him to a pool where he leaned upon the water and saw himself in the bloom of youth. Under a spell, Narcissus did not realize it was merely his own reflection and fell deeply in love with it as if it were somebody else. HE, IN FACT, MISTOOK HIMSELF AS ANOTHER. Unable to leave the allure of his image, he eventually realized that his love could not be reciprocated and “he melted away from the fire of passion burning inside him, eventually turning into a gold and white flower”. In other stories, he committed suicide or drowned.

This print is meant to make your reflection look like another, as the myth provides. And what does that mean? To not recognize yourself? To love something that is unknowingly a version of you? To try and love your body when it won’t love you back? Here I am, looking at my reflection, creating a reflection, and reflecting in the reflection. Thinking about self-love, gender dysphoria, vanity, and Queer shame, in relation to this myth. CHEERS to learning to make history fit my confused Queer body through my art and stretching it out till the threads break apart.”

— Sam Schembri


A Note from the Artist:

Queerness has been exhibited throughout human existence and it is time to bring it to the forefront of the contemporary art scene to reimagine its meaning. History has moulded our (mis)understanding of ourselves, and each other, leaving a lot of damage in society and I am constantly reimagining myself in an attempt to rewrite my own history and embrace who my authentic self is. This does not just relate to queer bodies but rather to human experiences altogether. The act of rewriting stories here is acknowledging what has been expected of us and what we expect of ourselves. Simply put, I want to rewrite stories; through art, about me, about my world, and about history. These stories may be homophobic, racist, sexist, transphobic, classist, and traditional, but they can be altered.

After all, history has made me, and now I want to remake it.