CBC Radio, All In A Day, Adrian Harewood

The Reassembled Self Series featured on Adrian Harewood’s All In A Day (CBC) prior to their 2007 exhibition at La Petite Mort Gallery Ottawa.


Adrian Harewood of CBC Radio’s All In A Day interviewed Sherry Tompalski regarding the exhibition of her Reassembled Self Series at La Petite Mort Gallery on July 27, 2007.

What is the Reassembled Self Series About?

The Reassembled Self Series takes the common experience of change, the many feelings, the turmoil and the inspiration and visualizes it as a tearing up and reconstructing of the self.


Tompalski’s Pseudo Obedience

This new series of works on paper features faces and figures reassembled from torn drawings, coloured paper and shredded musical scores using graphite, oil stick, conte and charcoal. The work visualizes various psychological themes from “Pseudo Obedience” to “The Fragmented Self.”


Psychologically Informed Images

Inspired by our inner experience, I am trying to make psychologically informed images that stimulate a curiosity about the hidden motives and conflicting desires that live within all of us. The work is developed in an exploratory fashion involving painting and drawing which subsequently is torn-up and reassembled with a collage of mixed media elements in an effort to create a fresh view of the subject.


Gallery Owner Guy Burube’s Tattooed Neck

The Experience of Impermanence

The work is trying to capture our fragility and resilience, and our experience of impermanence. Take for example Rumi’s poems – and the following is my favorite. “This being human is a guest house Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”


Adrian Harewood Backgrounder

Adrian is co-host of CBC News Ottawa. Harewood attended elementary and high school at Ashbury College, and was involved in community radio at CKCU (Carleton University) and CHUO (University of Ottawa). He has been a guest host on national CBC programs such as As it Happens, Sounds Like Canada and The Current. Before coming to television, Harewood was the host of All In A Day on CBC Radio One in Ottawa.

Rogers TV’s RegArts, Jewelled Body Parts

RegArts, the Francophone Cultural Magazine of Rogers TV features the Jeweled Body Parts, Talking Portraits and Body Language Series.


In 2007  Rogers TV’s program RegArts featured Tompalski’s Jeweled Body Parts, Talking Portraits and Body Language Series. RegArts is the Francophone Cultural Magazine of the Greater Ottawa Region.

Marlene Hoff, a well known arts advocate in the Capital Region, spoke to the RegArts reporter live at the Red Saloon art show in Ottawa. Marlene was also a subject of a portrait in Tompalski’s Talking Portrait series as shown below.


Marlene sitting for Portrait in Tomaplski’s Ottawa Studio


Marlene’s Portrait by Sherry Tompalski

Psychologist and arts supporter Annick Chenier was also interviewed by Roger TV’s RegArts Francophone Cultural Magazine program about her Talking Portrait recorded by Tompalski and Thompson.


Annicks portraits is shown below:


As well Mathieu  Dion covered Tompalski work on RegArts in 2007. Today he works for Radio Canada as a parliamentary correspondent in Quebec City.


In a second piece by RegArts, covering Tompalski’s Jeweled Body Parts show at La Petite Mort Gallery of Ottawa, Professor, Architect and Artist Honorata Pienkowska describes the formal elements of the Jeweled Body Parts Series.

Tompalski’s definition is as follows: “The Jeweled Body Parts series is an exploration of the power of feminine beauty, objectification and the desire to be a complete person. It is a playful series of bold designs and subliminal images emphasizing the surface…the skin…the interface between inside and outside. Jeweled Body Parts, continue the Body Language Series, which was recently featured in Scientific America’s psychological magazine Mente & Cerebro of Sao Paulo Brazil. My style is best described as psychological realism as I try to capture psychological experience in paint on canvas. As a psychiatrist, I have spent many years trying to help people understand their inner life, and in a sense my paintings are that inner life made visible.”


La Petite Mort Gallery Ottawa, Talking Portraits

Tompalski’s Talking Portraits were exhibited at La Petite Mort Gallery May 26th, 2006.


Sherry Tompalski’s Talking Portaits Installation was at La Petite Mort Gallery, curated by Guy Berube,  May 26th 7 – 10 PM at 306 Cumberland St. Ottawa Canada.  The  Exhibition provided 3 ways to experience the portrait – through large oil paintings, 8 audio sound tracks, and 8 videos of time-lapse photography that record the creation of the portraits.


PORTRAITS: The east wall will be covered with 135 square feet of boldly painted faces painted in her style of Psycholoogical Realism, where Tompalski captures the psychological experience of Ottawa’s leading psychotherapists and artists in paint on canvas. Her work is emphasizes intuition, interpretation, and co-construction (the unconscious dialogue of the portrait sitting.)


Portraiture & New Media

SOUND TRACKS: The sound tracks, were developed by splicing together unscripted comments with original computer music and sounds of birds, trains, roller coasters, steel bands and bagpipes. This dialogue allows for a momentary glimpse into the process of co-construction through the model’s verbal dialogue and the painter’s visual expression.


TIME-LAPSE VIDEOS: The time-lapse photography displays the development of the portrait. The hypnotic effect helps the audience take the time to look and become engaged with the painted portrait. To understand ourselves we look at others for clues as to what we are experiencing. The human face conveys a rich complexity of personal history, which we feel in an inexplicable way as an impression or an intuition. Paintings and Installation by Sherry Tompalski and Supporting Audio and Video tracks by Graham Thompson.


Artist’s Statement

The Talking Portrait Installation, with its matrix of boldly painted faces, its use of time-lapse photography and edited voice tracks, invites the audience into the intimate moment of the portrait sitting. Rather than hang the portraits of the Talking Portrait Installation individually, Tompalski typically presents groups 9 to 15 large faces per gallery wall, covering as much as 135 square feet at a time. Consequently, art audiences are confronted by an expressive collection of personalities that for Tompalski represents “our life experience with others – those people who live inside of us, who shape the way we are from moment to moment.”


As well, The Talking Portrait Installation offers audience the opportunity to listen on portable audio players, individual sounds tracks for each portrait (produced by Thompson), where the models unsolicited comments are accompanied by supporting sound effects and programmed music that set the mood of each encounter. In effect, the sound tracks help the audience understand what each model is feeling, as part of an ongoing effort to capture the psychological experience of each model. The painted portraits are also supported by the time-lapse record of their creation (produced by Thompson), giving audiences, a quick overview of the development of each face through multiple layers of paint. The hypnotic effect of the compressed video helps the audience take a moment to look, to become engaged with the matrix of portraits. Consequently, the overall effect of the installation is a deepening of the moment, the moment mediated by the right hemisphere of the brain.


Right Brain Communication

The Talking Portrait installation is primarily concerned about right brain communication, as it takes place between the artist and the model, as the right brain is responsible for processing nonverbal facial expression, body language, and voice in terms of rhythm, tone and force. Research (Wexler et al 1992) demonstrates that the right hemisphere is specialized for both the receptive processing and expressive communication of facial information (primarily from the eyes and from around the mouth) between people in spontaneous social interaction.


This occurs very quickly in 3 milliseconds and is unconscious. For Tompalski, a practicing psychiatrist, the Talking Portrait series serves as visual confirmation that “90% of what goes on between people is unconscious”-an idea she credits to Daniel Stern, a professor of psychology at the University of Geneva and a noted expert in the mother-infant relationship.


Tompalski describes her portrait making process as follows, “To understand ourselves we look at others for clues as to what we are experiencing. The human face conveys a rich complexity of personal history, which I feel in an inexplicable way as an impression or an intuition. Consequently, I value painting from a live model. Most importantly, this allows for a mutual influence that is interactive and largely unconscious.”