School of the Arts, Media + Culture SAMC

Erica Grimm, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Art + Design

  • Biography

    Dr. Erica L. Grimm works with themes of embodiment and liminality. She has had over 25 solo exhibitions and is in numerous private and public collections, including the Vatican Art Collection, Canada Council Art Bank and the Richmond Art Gallery. She was the Distinguished Nash Lecturer at the University of Regina, the first Prize recipient of the Imago National Juried Art Competition, and was honored as the Distinguished Alumnae from the University of Regina. Erica’s current visual work uses encaustic, steel, medical imagery (PET scans, Angioplasty animated gifs., EKG readings), video and sound, exploring how the body is mapped and how the meaning of body travels over various materials and culturally specific signifiers of meaning. Her PhD dissertation The Aesthetics of Attentiveness: A Philosophy for Artists and Educators  is a philosophical aesthetics written from the vantage point of the maker of art. It proposes that in the active practice of making work artists come to knowing by passing through a liminal passage of unknowing.  Art-making can therefore be thought of as a kind of apophatic epistemology, a form of understanding born out of mindful attention. Her dissertation identifies three phases of creative liminality: a recognition that to come to the act of making requires three phases of embodied engagement; the rituals of self-emptying; the liminal space of creation; and the reflective act of seeing again what the artist has come to understand through creating.


  • Education

    • Ph.D. (Simon Fraser University)
    • Academie der Bildenden Kunste (Munich, Germany)
    • BFA (Great Distinction) (University of Regina)
  • Recent Publications

    • A Broken Beauty: Figuration, Narrative and the Transcendent in North American Art, Laguna Art Museum, CA.
    • The Next Generation: Contemporary Expressions of Faith, MOBIA, New York City/li>
    • RAG 25 Years 25 Artists, Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, BC
  • Memberships & Affiliations

    • CIVA (Christian in the Visual Arts)
    • CARFAC
    • CAA (College Art Association
  • Awards & Honours

    • 2012 SSHRC Provost Research Award
    • SSHRC TWU Internal Award, 2005
    • Distingished Nash Lecturer at Campion College at the University of Regina
    • Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Regina, 2002
    • First Prize Imago Juried Art Competition
    • B Grant, Saskatchewan Arts Board
  • Visual Work

    My visual work inquires into embodiment, materiality and liminality. These longstanding concerns have led me to question how meaning is negotiated in the beginning of the 21st Century via signs, texts and signifiers. Embodiment explores the ways in which the body mediates all we know, think, perceive and feel; the Incarnational goodness of flesh, blood, circulatory system, and dendrites; and the vital import of attending to this bodily data. Liminality describes a suspended state between two states of being- a profound, generative and sometimes fearful place that all religious traditions try to find words to describe, the experience of which leaves one startled, attentive, aware and awake- altered, changed in unpredictable and fundamental ways. Often the body is suspended between planes of steel and wax, a liminal rendering of being becoming, a figure peeled, raw, tender and real.

    Materiality and Embodiment
    We are inescapably materially embodied creatures. The core of my visual research practice explores how materials such as wax, paper, steel, lead, ash and gold can be juxtaposed with the material body to create and complicate meaning. I layer encaustic over graphite drawings and a variety of images on paper (such as PET scans, navigational charts, maps or texts) then juxtapose planes of materials with these figurative encaustic surfaces. Discovering the potency of materials has been exhilarating.  Steel, wax, gold, and lead all carry meanings, are coded with significance ranging from precious to toxic and when paired with the figure heighten a corporeal reading of the figure. Medical images map the body’s interior and a variety of maps and texts, similarly encoded with layers and levels of cultural significance, collide in unexpected chaotic potentialities of meaning making. The meaning of body unravels over these various signs and materials, all culturally and geographically located. We are each alive in our own skins and fragile, material beings. It is in attending to and honoring this miraculous, unexplainable, material existence that occasionally in unexpected moments, something is opened and realized, glimmers of meaning beyond words, made manifest. Spirituality and materiality are of one piece, unavoidably connected. To avoid, deny or denigrate material existence is to turn from what we are given. Spirituality is embedded at a cellular level into the material realm and it is in plunging into the material that the liminal is recognized.


Department or Program:

Art + Design