Geek Chic: Altekrea celebrates alternative genres of art

Calling all geeks, nerds, and variations thereupon; Altekrea: The Artistry of the Third Counter-Culture is currently on at Kitchener City Hall.
The exhibit in the Berlin Tower ARTSPACE is an initiative to showcase select artists leading up to the Altekrea art festival, which will feature a number of events with industry speakers, panels, exhibit, and performances from November 21-23.
Altekrea: The Artistry of the Third Counter Culture recognizes the talent and creativity present in alternative genres of art. Drawing inspiration from mediums such as: comics, science fiction, fantasy, animation, and internet culture, the exhibit features a spectrum of art based off of both existing series and original material.
Moreover, Altekrea gives consideration to the nebulous boundaries of geek culture in its curation of artwork, shifting the focus to “geek” as an emblem for expression on an individual and artistic level as opposed to a restrictive pigeonhole.
“Geek culture kind of has a stigma, or stereotype that goes with it … but there’s so much talent out there, and so many cross-sections of networks. I think it’s kind of silly that people can be turned away by name alone,” said Miroki Tong, multidisciplinary artist and creator of Altekrea.
Altekrea is made up of select small scale artworks by 14 artists, allowing for the kind of comfortable intimacy often experienced in game shops and similar hobby spaces. Despite the small scale of the exhibit, the range of media is as diverse as the subject matter. Notable materials include: pencil drawings, watercolour, woodworking, painting, digital art, sculpture, jewellery, and paper art.
Altekrea’s collection of art initially appears chaotic, but its conscious juxtaposition of these works is appropriate and candid in its representation of geek culture. In any other context, a traditional oil painting depicting astral bodies would never be displayed next to a colourful illustration of cartoon cats with laser beams shooting out of their eyes. In this instance, however, Laura Renwick’s tongue-in-cheek celebration of a common internet obsession is right at home next to Carmen Peters’ abstractions of nebulae.
While the aesthetic of the third counter culture is prevalent in the entertainment industry and online communities, its presence in the traditional gallery spaces is more rare. Digital painting, rarely seen alongside traditional works in a gallery context, was a well-represented medium. Kim Flynn’s pieces were exceptional in expressing the versatility of the medium, pairing the realism of commercial matte painting techniques with the softness of a traditional painterly approach.
Altekrea: The Artistry of the Third Counter-Culture is on display at the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda throughout October. A second exhibit billed as a unique, collaborative art installation will be taking its place through November, leading up to Altekrea: a Free Festival of Alternative Creation from Nov. 21–23. For more information, visit


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