Art Apprenticeship Network’s Alyson Bucharest on Assisting with Randy Lee Cutler’s Exhibition OTOH (On The Other Hand)

By Nicole Yamamoto

Preparing an installation of work for exhibition is no easy feat—Art Apprenticeship Network’s Alyson Bucharest can attest to that. This Spring, Alyson’s apprenticeship for artist Randy Lee Cutler has kept her busy assisting with the production of Cutler’s exhibition OTOH (On The Other Hand), currently presented at Wil Aballe Art Projects (WAAP) as part of the 2021 Capture Photography Festival. On the Other Hand is a collage series inspired by the lack of physical intimacy induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Comprising more than 70 individual images, the series brings together disparate elements that form an abstract visual syntax composed to evade understanding while simultaneously inviting a shared personal connection. Alyson’s own background working with collage encouraged her to pursue this opportunity and play a part in this exhibition. “I have always wanted to receive mentorship from a professional artist,” Alyson says. “I think investing in what I was doing is what fueled me to put my best efforts in and maintain as high of standards as I could.”

OTOH Poster Photo by Michael Love, courtesy Wil Aballe Art Projects.

Alyson’s role had her to play a part in various aspects of the exhibition process. Digitally, she scanned, edited, and uploaded work online to Cutler’s website. She was included in the consideration process for layout and presentation ideas for the exhibition and supported the work physically through the set up and will be participating in the take down of the installation as well. Alyson describes working with Wil Aballe, Director at WAAP as a great experience. “Being in the gallery and learning how he and WAAP have developed since they opened was a real highlight.” Working with Cutler and coordinating with Aballe helped her recognize how casual and friendly the relationship between an artist and a gallerist can be. Alyson adds that the positive experience of installing an exhibition was further augmented by the creative brainstorming that occurred pre-install. “Extending creativity into the presentation of an exhibition has been something I really appreciated witnessing and being a part of,” she says. 

This apprenticeship with Cutler has provided Alyson with valuable skills that can be imposed on her own artistic practice. Working on a timeline with plans to accomplish goals before any formal deadlines, anticipating complications, staying patient, maintaining a high work ethic while striving to offer genuine, quality work were insights crucial to her achievements as an apprentice. On The Other Hand was constructed using porous watercolour paper available at Cutler’s home during COVID-19 lockdowns. Capturing the paper’s texture and details became a pivotal area of interest during the scanning process. Alyson describes witnessing Cutler’s ability to hone in a vision and follow through with it resolutely as a meaningful learning moment, which has helped her realize how artists’ intentions manifest throughout their work.  

OTOH Poster AlbumPhoto by Michael Love, courtesy Wil Aballe Art Projects.

Alyson is grateful for Cutler’s transparency and hard-working attitude, as well as the mentorship on how to pair creative freedom with intention, creative processes and personal practices. “I seem to struggle with how to see myself as an artist, despite having a pretty personal relationship with making my own work,” Alyson says. “Just through having time to talk to Randy, I have learned a lot about how to be confident, humble, and self accepting.” As an emerging artist still learning how to talk about her work, Alyson says feeling validated and supported has been one of the biggest contributions to the quality of her experience. 

The strong communication between Alyson and Cutler translated to the success of the exhibition install. “[Alyson’s] research into different tasks demonstrated her attention to the work and the detailed knowledge necessary to complete each task,” Cutler says. “Every step of the way we had a mutual appreciation of each other’s skills and points of view.” 

What Alyson looks forward to after this program is making work outside of school again and wrapping up unfinished projects. “I really want to take some time to absorb all the things I have been learning, mature my aesthetics, and refine my ideas,” she states. “Along the way, I plan to find opportunities to show my work, experiment more, take on more refined concepts and participate in larger conversations.” 

OTOH Two WallsPhoto by Michael Love, courtesy Wil Aballe Art Projects.

OTOH (On the Other Hand) will be available to view at WAAP until May 29, 2021. Shumka Centre’s Art Apprenticeship Network program is generously supported by RBC Emerging Artists Project.