Heather Benning: The Dollhouse
In 2005, Heather Benning acquired the use of an abandoned farmhouse near Sinclair, Manitoba, Canada. She reshingled the roof and worked to restore and refurnish the interior to the era when it was last occupied. Benning then removed the north façade, replacing it with massive sheets of PlexiGlas. The Dollhouse was officially opened to the public in June of 2007. It stood tomb-like as a life-sized doll's house for the next six years. Owing to continued aging and a compromised foundation making the structure unsafe, the project concluded with the house's burning in 2013. The exhibition in Bibliowicz Family Gallery documents the life of The Dollhouse in a series of haunting photographs and a short film.
Scale is a recurring theme in Benning's sculptural and photographic work. Field Doll (2011–13) charts the course of a seemingly lost gigantic toy across fields and small towns. The Marysburg Project (2004–11) featured an enormous prairie farm woman inserted into a house Alice-in-Wonderland-style, whereas The Alter miniaturized figures in a triptych relief referencing murder ballads, medieval altarpieces, tales of martyrs, and early 20th century immigration to the New World.
A native of Saskatchewan, Canada, Benning studied at the University of Regina, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. Benning's work has been exhibited widely across Canada and published in The Paris Review, Daily Mail, The National Post and Sculpture Magazine, among others.
This exhibition was curated by visiting associate professor Mark Morris, director of exhibitions.