Alexandra Emberly

Alexandra Emberley
University of Alberta


Born and raised in southern Ontario, Alexandra completed a BA in Philosophy & Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto and an MFA in Film and Video at York University before undertaking a Ph.d. in Culture, Language & Teaching. For four years, she was an Asst. Professor in Foundation Studies at NSCAD(Halifax) leading courses in visual culture, film and critical studies and drawing. Currently, she is preparing her MFA exhibition in Printmaking at the University of Alberta. Alexandra has received awards and grants including the Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship and the Alberta Fine Arts Award as well as a Nova Scotia Creation Grant and an HRM Open Projects Grant. She has exhibited nationally and internationally with solo shows in Halifax and Toronto and group exhibitions in Edmonton, Toronto, Slovakia and London as well as participating in artist residencies at the Banff Centre for Fine Arts, Alberta and the Bentlage Museum & Cultural Centre in Rheine, Germany.


Lure or Learning from Fur
Lure is a print project reclaiming pieces of fur from articles of clothing and toys as well as remnants left over and sold by tanneries. Each of the images is created from scanned images of fur found in or disassembled from their original form. The project developed in response to several inspirations including a fur collar once belonging to my mother given to me as a gift, from living with my dog “Ella” for almost nine years and Meret Oppenheim’s surreal Object (1936). I came to understand the project as also emerging in relation to questions I was researching as part of my Ph.D. dissertation on difficult knowledge and the experience of learning from. In her book Lost Subjects and Contested Objects (1998), Deborah Britzman writes:
Whereas learning about an event or experience focuses upon the acquisition of qualities, attributes, and facts, so that it presupposes a distance (or, one might even say, a detachment) between the learner and what is to be learned, learning from an event or experience is of a different order, that of insight. Both of these learning moves are made more fragile in difficult knowledge. But, precisely because insight concerns the acknowledgement of discontinuity from the persistence of the status quo, and hence asks something intimate from the learner, learning from requires the learner’s attachment to, and implication in, knowledge (p.117).
In “Lure” I was concerned with how to create an image that testifies to another’s life, seeking to create a visual record of the remnants of these animals lives. I wanted the images to feel didactic and ambiguous, so that on they appear as a confrontation between two different kinds of subjects — of the human and the animal — while the haptic or sensed quality of the furry print dissolves or suspends the boundaries between these categories. The prints were made using a photopolymer film on a copper plate that was developed/etched, printed and then chine-colléd.