Artist of the month: Andrew McKay

Friday, December 17, 2021

The University of Waterloo Library is pleased to reintroduce Imaginarium — a place devoted to inspiring and realizing new artistic, scientific, and philosophical pursuits. Due to the pandemic, we will be ending our exhibit by imagining the works of Andrew McKay in this virtual exhibit.


Still Life with Objects of Fantasy 6 painting by Andrew McKayAndrew has been painting for fifteen years and has produced many works over this time. Some of the concepts for his works come to him quite quickly, while others he indicates take years to complete. Andrew started the works he submitted for Imaginarium while at the University of Waterloo in the Fine Arts program, but then finished them while attending Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver.

Andrew drew inspiration for his submission for Art in the Library from the concept of agnosia. Agnosia happens when a person is unable to interpret what should be easily understood. This concept influenced his paintings because it aims at giving form to how items held as personal possessions act as sites of imagination, at once serving as containers for and acting as agents of that elusive notion we have of 'imagination'. When looking at his paintings, the viewer is drawn to the bold colours, lines, and objects to imagine what the meaning behind the placement and creation was. The viewer is able to experience the paintings liminally by standing/viewing them at the crux of the in-between of real life and their imaginations.

In Andrew’s own words, he describes the intersection of agnosia and imagination:

"The condition of agnosia — the medical variant, acutely; the more general variant only slightly less so — indicates that we either cannot recognize what is in front of us, or that the interpretation of the nature of things and events is highly obscured or inaccurate. Imagination I feel is so tied to the physicality of objects and places, and when one thinks of how unreliable 'eyewitnesses' tend to be, the same lack of dependability must affect how imagination functions. Essentially, we are right from the start two steps removed: we didn't really get a good sense of scene and scenery when we were living a moment, so how reliable will imagination (conditional upon sensory memory) be?"

Be sure to check out Andrew's Agnosia exhibit! See more of Andrew's work here.

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