2022 Grad Show

Mackenzie Roth

AUArts Grad Show Insignia of the Little Bat – Mackenzie Roth #3



The conflict between fascination and fear within the oddities found on our own planet create voids in which uncanniness overwhelms. Through my work, I create spectacles of these curiosities by forcing a confrontation – an experience that acts as a unique and impactful encounter. The narratives within my work tell the willfully ignored stories of the vestigial beings that exist beyond what our senses can comprehend. I parade these curiosities, not necessarily despite their uncanniness, but because of it. While the uncanny evokes uneasiness, I toy with the relationship between attraction and repulsion to force the viewer to deliberate on the oddities before them by creating atmospheres of feeling where intrigue and repulsion contest for dominance.  My work explores a void, both physical and psychological where we are faced with the unknowns that exist in the spaces where we cannot – whether microscopic, historic, or within areas of our planet that are uninhabitable by humans. My installations create an environment – an experience – where viewers are to face the nihilistic “world without us” and explore it and its oddities. It is this way that I wish to allow viewers entry into the void. When gazing upon my work, I desire viewers to feel a sense of wonder and simultaneous unease that captivates and mystifies. Within each encounter, I bridge the gap that written and verbal languages cannot express – telling the narratives of the voids amongst us.

I find great fascination in the oddities found on our own planet – the creatures and environments that we place in the uncanny. I am intrigued by our aversion to these oddities, despite their curious allure. Inspired by the writings of David Peak, I have grown inquisitive as to how voids within our understanding impact our reactions to the natural world around us. As a Canadian, I take great pride in my heritage and country and use the hidden worlds within Canada as the mode for sharing my narratives. As such, my current work explores the micro cosmic ecosystems within our Canadian landscape as well as Canada’s rich fossil record of the creatures time as forgotten. Taking inspiration from scientific journals and imaginative authors, my work tells the nihilistic narrative of places inaccessible to our senses and beyond what they can feasibly comprehend.

From Beyond

First installed April 2021. Performance depicts viewer interaction. Glass, alcohol ink, aircraft cable, steel, motors, copper wire, electrical cords.
This work was created as an illustrative experience inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond.

Extinction Event

Extinction event is an installation work made from a hand-engraved, blown glass incalmo bowl, shale, soil and a specific light source. This piece is displayed at the AUArts in-person Grad Show. Completed in 2021.


The work not only speaks to the power of garment, but, through drawing upon histories, how women have reclaimed sexualized garments as power symbols. The performance of wearing courtesan heels in a modern setting is an act of rebellion and becomes a spectacle for the gaze and as such becomes an act of rebellion. The model in the shoes is perceived at the height of her power, drawing attention from all those who pass her - none approaching but all watching. While the shoes themselves are extreme, they simply act as a catalyst for channeling power and confidence to bewitch the gaze. With this, she reclaims ownership over her role as not just a synergist but a channeler of power.

November 2020.

Memento Mori Earrings

Enameled copper, graphite, abalone, amethyst, onyx, pearl, plastic ear backs, steel ear wire. April 2021.

An exploration on cultural death practices and perceptions of death a a wearable declaration of memento mori.

Insignia of the Little Bat

Fine and sterling silver, moonstone cabochon. February – March 2020.

Created using traditional filigree techniques, this piece highlights the elegance of the bat – the flow of the filigree wires drawing inspiration from the movement of sound waves echolocation. The piece was featured in local exhibition, The Delicate Display from March 21st – 28th, 2019 in the Vortex Gallery (Calgary, AB).

Opabinia Regalis

Glass and Coral. December 2018.

Primarily found hidden within sedimentary deposits in British Columbia, this arthropod existed during the Middle Cambrian Period – making it one of the Rockies’ infamous Burgess Shale creatures. Fewer than 20 good specimens of Opabinia have been reported, leaving much to be discovered in regards to their lifestyle and anatomy. Although, from the research available, it is deduced that these soft-bodied sea creatures used the lobes along the sides of their bodies to glide across the sea floor and use their proboscis to search for food. They average about 5.7cm in length. This piece depicts a glass study of the creature based off of available research and recent discoveries.

A Reclamation of Hope

October 2020. Stained glass, photographic documentation.

This piece was exhibited during “New Normal” at the Ruberto Ostberg Gallery in November 2021 and again at the “11th Annual President’s Student Art, Craft and Design Exhibition” at the Alberta University of the Arts from April 2022 to January 2023.

Photography in collaboration with Leia Guo.

Do Not Seek the Infinities Below

Glass, steel and aluminum frame. 13in x 13in x 30in when installed, individually each piece is approx. 10in x 12in. Ongoing (2020 onward).
This work is accompanied by a short story - video embedded in carrousel.
Images credited to and courtesy of Mathieu Martel.

A Celebration of Evolutionary Excellence

Reduction fired / glazed ceramic, gold leaf, oil paint. 9in x 7in x 7in. December 2021.

Alternative Methods of Display

With this work, I am challenging traditional display methods, specifically within a museum environment. Frequently, specimens are seen behind glass, displayed with information and illustrations of their alive forms, using the glass as a protective material. While the importance of glass for preservation cannot be understated, regarding glass as a material for artistic manipulation can create an interactive experience that is functional, educative and beautiful. Each of the vessels are sculpted to take on the likeness of the creature they contain. Using clear glass in such a way not only acts as a protective barrier to preserve the fossil but generates a ghostly illusion of the prehistoric creature. Photo credits: Elisha Lozares.