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Katie Lyle (background) and Ella Dawn McGeough (foreground), Greener than Grass exhibition view, Susan Hobbs Gallery, 2020, curated by Lillian O’Brien Davis. Photo: Laura Findlay, courtesy of Susan Hobbs Gallery

Katie Lyle (background) and Ella Dawn McGeough (foreground), Greener than Grass exhibition view, Susan Hobbs Gallery, 2020, curated by Lillian O’Brien Davis. Photo: Laura Findlay, courtesy of Susan Hobbs Gallery

School of Art Gallery presents Dancing with Tantalus

School of Art Gallery: 

Dancing with Tantalus

Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Katie Lyle, and Ella Dawn McGeough

Curated by Lillian O’Brien Davis

January 21 to March 13, 2021


*Please note that the School of Art Gallery is currently closed due to COVID-19. Contact the gallery and consult our COVID-19 protocols before planning your visit.


Contact is a many layered metaphor; both touch and its absence have consequences that can extend indefinitely. I look at my hands. They feel huge, like mitts that will cover, crush, or make a mess. I am frightened that the marks they make will last too long, be too big, cause unpredictable outcomes. When I do make contact, the effects are not immediate—this delay temporarily alleviates my fears. However, all marks, all instances of contact, eventually appear. While contact may signal a crisis, its lack also torments, like the aching feeling when something lies just out of grasp.

Consider the Greek myth of Tantalus, who stole ambrosia, nectar, and the gods’ secrets of immortality for his people. As punishment for his crime, Tantalus was made to stand in a clear pool where water receded before he could drink, underneath trees laden with fruit that forever escaped his grasp. Touching leaves traces, often more lasting than originally imagined, but the absence of touch builds both anticipation and desire.

Featuring work by Ella Dawn McGeough, Katie Lyle and Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Dancing with Tantalus engages qualities of contact—between people, surfaces, and objects—to examine haptic intimacy and explore the causal relationship between artworks and the many structures that make contact with them—physically, intellectually, emotionally, institutionally, and historically.


Associated Programming:

Dancing with Tantalus Panel Discussion

Thursday, February 18, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. CT

Facilitated on Zoom. Registration required; space is limited, and live-streamed on the School of Art Gallery, University of Manitoba YouTube channel

Guest curator Lillian O’Brien Davis will moderate a conversation between artists Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Katie Lyle, and Ella Dawn McGeough. This discussion will be a continuation of the ongoing dialogue that maintains this exhibition as an open-ended and ever-evolving exploration of the crisis of touch.

Panel will be ASL interpreted and recorded and uploaded to YouTube.


Volta: A Writing Workshop with Nic Wilson

Saturday, March 6, 1:00 to 3:00 pm CT

Facilitated on Zoom.  Registration required; space is limited.

A Volta is a crack, a shift, or a turn—a change in orientation or rhetorical strategy. A Volta is what moves the tides of thought throughout a piece of writing. This workshop will explore and stretch this poetic convention in reference to experimental arts writing. Together, we will examine writing from different genres that makes use of this restless shifting to move beyond singular viewpoints or static observations. Through shared writing exercises we will experiment with the multivalent possibilities of the volta. Participants will be given reading material prior to the workshop to be explored further with Wilson.

Nic Wilson (he/they) is an artist and writer living and working on Treaty Four land in Regina, SK. Their writing has appeared in publications such as BlackFlash Magazine, Peripheral Review, and Public. He is the founder and editor of the new publication project Gravitron, a very small press focusing on writing that happens around, about, instead of, or as visual art.


Choreography as Premonition//The Imaginary Event of Presentation: A Movement Workshop with Katie Lyle and Shelby Wright

Sunday, March 7, 12:00 p.m. CT

Facilitated on Zoom.  Registration required; space is limited.

Presented by Dancing with Tantalus artist Katie Lyle and dancer-choreographer Shelby Wright, this workshop will combine movement and drawing with an emphasis on collaboration, revision, and choreography. The workshop asks us to consider how our movements change in relation to one another, how we might experience duality in our own bodies, and the difference between watching and feeling movement. How might we move and work in a space that is both public and private? How might our movement embody “doing something” – thinking, revising, or starting over?

Katie Lyle and Shelby Wright have worked collaboratively since 2015. Together, their work spans visual art, performance, dance, creative writing and installation. In 2018, they created A Room to Perform, a work that explores how a structure might actively become part of a performance, letting its shape and form determine the way their movements were obscured and cropped. Lyle and Wright are both based in Toronto.


Performance by Ali Robson

Thursday, March 11, 7:00 p.m. CT

Live-streaming on the School of Art Gallery, University of Manitoba YouTube channel 

In conjunction with the exhibition, Dancing with Tantalus, Ali Robson will present a performance responding to the themes, conversations, metaphors, and theories that have shaped the exhibition’s development. 

Ali Robson is a dancer, choreographer, rehearsal director, and movement coach in both dance and theatre in Treaty One, and is curious about collaborating across disciplines and creating work with and for people of all ages.




School of Art Gallery

255 ARTlab

180 Dafoe Road

Winnipeg MB R3T2N2

For more information, contact  School of Art Media and Events Coordinator Cailyn Harrison, cailyn [dot] harrison [at] umanitoba [dot] ca.


The University of Manitoba campuses are located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

We respect the Treaties that were made on these territories, we acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

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