Work of Art: PAINTEATER/Thin Skin Thick Hide by DaveandJenn

Calgary and its surrounding area is full of creative people and beautiful pieces of art. Here is just one piece you should know about.

Photograph by Kevin Baer

PAINTEATER/Thin Skin Thick Hide, 2015, Epoxy putty, bronze and mixed media, 16.5" x 22.75" x 18”. The piece is at the Nickle Galleries, Taylor Family Digital Library, University of Calgary. Admission, free to all.


The artwork

Who is this creature? Her cinnamon-brown hair coils gracefully around fine-boned shoulders. Her ears are attentive. her limpid eyes peer from deep recesses in her glowing visage. The cues point to a sensitive, young, feminine figure, but there is more: neon orange beard and moustache, feral mouth, iridescent whiskers, ornamental fangs, unicorn/narwhal-like horns and a polished bronze face mask. Add the accretion of sores — the swollen sites of multiple stings from the colony of bees that co-inhabit her space. 

Collaborative artists DaveandJenn concocted this hybrid/humanoid sculptural bust as a psychological portrait — what if our lifetime experience and inner feelings take physical shape, like the growth of a coral reef? With an idea like that, an artist could invent mythologies and work with any combination of unlikely materials — and they do. They pull it off with a unique, gentle spirit and a “party while the sky is falling” attention to detail, while their insatiable curiosity about natural science and science fiction continues to fuel their work. 

This is part of the exhibition A Natural History of Islands, curated by Christine Sowiak, on display at the Nickle Galleries through Dec. 17, 2016. Join artists DaveandJenn for “Nickle at Noon,” a tour of the exhibition on Nov. 24 from noon to 1 p.m. 


The artists

David Foy and Jennifer Saleik joined forces as DaveandJenn in 2004, becoming the first artists to graduate from the Alberta College of Art and Design as a collaborative in 2006. Among the first generation of artists to grow up with the Internet, they find that the web structure of interconnectedness-without-end influences their perception and approach to developing ideas. The delightfully intricate, layered narratives quickly caught the attention of the art community, and you can certainly count them among the top under-40s in the Canadian art world. 

DaveandJenn are represented locally by TrépanierBaer Gallery. Their website is


This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Avenue Calgary. Subscribe here.


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