“A colony of things” – B.C. artist James Mulchinock on driftwood and baseball marks

photo 4James Mulchinock, you gather, arrange and transform easily accessible objects—or their residue—such as driftwood, coat hangers, baseball marks. Have you turned your childhood passion for collecting into an integral part of your art practice?

James: I think most artists become collectors through necessity. Depending on your approach and medium, you need collectible stuff as the raw material for both ideas and even as material for the work.

Have you entered the hoarding zone yet?

James: No, but give me time and space. Having a childhood passion for collecting helps, especially when faced with the choice between keeping or ignoring interesting stuff one encounters in day-to-day travels. I’m inclined to keep. It may take years before I use it, but that day always seems to arrive.

You told me that you always have a clear concept of what you want to achieve before starting a piece of art. What is the story behind the two large driftwood pieces in “A colony of things”?

James: The two large pieces in Colony of Things using drift sticks started as both concept and process. Years ago, I did a quick study sculpture using drift sticks. At the same time, I was painting more and more on raised wood cradle canvasses, so I thought a lot about painting above the actual traditional painting canvas. Is it possible for me to paint on a non-canvas (surface of beach stick ends) surface a couple inches out from a wall? That’s the idea. But it sat, like a lot of ideas, for a few years. Finally, the itch to create from that one concept was too much to ignore any longer.

James Mulchinock, for the last month these 2 large wall stick sculptures caught my eye every time I was passing by them in our gallery XChanges. First as close-up, unique items with their own beauty and second as part of a group or colony of hundreds of individuals. The sticks’ individuality is disguised when incorporated into the larger mass. In fact, the viewer is hard pressed to identify this mysterious mass as originating from the beach.

James: The large wall stick sculptures are part of a series about the transformation of hundreds of natural wood beach drift sticks into a state of duality. The original organic character of these beach sticks is transformed from an item of utilitarian function into a relief surface of uncertain scale, texture and colour.

photo 1Does that mean your exhibition A Colony of Things is about the dual behaviour of individual marks and objects?

James: Indeed. This larger mass hides the individuality of its members by the sheer volume (300-2000) of collected items or marks.

Your exhibition also contains several paintings (for lack of better word) with a reference to baseball. I am not a baseball fan at all, but these pieces of art keep fascinating me. Tell us more about the concept behind them and why your back hurt so much working on them, you could not get out of bed for a day or two?

James: The baseball drawings, Painting the Corners, came about after several seasons traveling with my son’s elite baseball team to the various baseball parks across British Columbia. When you have hours to kill waiting for the team to complete pre-game warm-up, you notice things: weathered structures around the ball field, marks of baseballs left on dugout walls, cleat spike marks on dirt, grass, and wood. Baseball is not kind to baseball diamonds. However, for an artist, the marks left behind tell a story of the game itself: dreams, emotions, repetitive skill development, it’s all there in what’s left behind.

Making the drawings was a simple trial and error process of what works to capture that erosive quality about the game. I settled on coating baseballs with compressed charcoal and dropping them on pristine drawing paper. Months later, I attempted to do two drawings in one day. With over 500 marks involving repetitive major body motions, I pulled muscles in my lower back. I had to go on the 15-day disabled list.

Your paintings capture the story of specific games in a very special way. How?

James: They represent the violent, yet delicate population of marks made by a baseball on a surface. It explores the controlled randomness of repetitive mark-making and is part of a larger project of documenting chance marks. While each mark leaves a delicate trace of individuality, as a mass they transform into something with its own form and distinctive character.

The marks left by baseballs, bats, and cleats on the worn and impacted surfaces of baseball diamonds strike me as a metaphor of youth, the role of sports in growing up, and even the drama and decay of dreams and ambition in life.

baseball painting by James

What do the Toronto Blue Jays have to do with your paintings?

James: The series is based on six games played by the Toronto Blue Jays professional baseball team during three months of their exciting and successful 2015 season. My process is to drop a charcoal-coated baseball onto the drawing paper, which has a penciled 1:1 scale rectangular strike zone representing where the real life pitch crossed home plate.

I have always been interested in collecting: childhood collections of similar cultural and non-cultural items such as postage stamps, leaves, and hockey cards. When organized and mounted for display, the individual items yield to the collective appearance of the group. Even prosaic and utilitarian collections of firewood, nails, and lawn trimmings have perhaps unintentional meanings when brought together. This work explores and transcends the formalistic qualities of known natural materials and ready-mades. Both series takes the familiar and transposes it into the mysterious.

photo 3Being an artist can sometimes be frustrating. What are the obstacles you have run into preparing “A colony of things”?

James: Installing Colony of Things involved the same technical challenges and frustrations experienced by any installation artist. In this case, it was hanging a very heavy wall sculpture on a stud-and-drywall gallery. We were once taught how to draw, paint, and make art. But most of us aren’t carpenters or welders. Yet, we forge on into those trades unprepared to meet the requirements. So, figuring out how to do something in a trade you’ve had no training or experience in can be very frustrating and potentially dangerous. If you’re smart, you cultivate friendships with carpenters and welders.

James Mulchinock, thank you very much for this interview.

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‘Forge body and mind’ by Karima GALVÁN

IMG_5536For over a week, she was cutting, glueing, crushing, crumbling and unfolding shiny aluminium. “How is it going?”, I would ask her every morning, admiring reflections in the murals on the wall of the gallery, and she would say with a contagious smile, “getting there!”

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The artist Karima Heredia (left) 

And did she ever! With her mixed media installation “Forge Mind and Body” Karima Heredia Galván connects the dots in life, bringing together three relational series: suppressed emotion, body dysmorphia and internal healing.

Karima Heredia Galván, you contribute the vibrancy of Mexico to the Victoria art community. With a scholarship-funding 2017 Diploma of Fine Arts from the Vancouver Island School of Art, you have continued to explore the many facets of the human body. What is your current exhibition “Forge Mind and Body” about?

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Mural reflections 

Karima Heredia Galván: “”Using mixed media, I examine the physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual components of our body. I like to connect the dots in life, how things interact and are connected. We each reflect one another. Forge Mind and Body examines this reflection and its impact on healing.”

You mention healing – was your project inspired by a particular recent event?

Karima Heredia Galván: “A few months ago, I was starting loosing the sight in one eye. The experience with brain surgery has inspired this exhibition. My project is based on three different approaches to heal body and mind. Firstly, my interest in working with the unconscious became a quest to liberate my primitiveness, my repressed emotions and darkest stories. Secondly, I was interested in community work, and how we are all animals that belong to tribes. Finalising with mandalas helped with meditations for my physical and internal recovery.

You say: ‘I like connecting the dots’ – what do you mean by that?

Karima: For me connecting the dots means the connection between body and mind; the link between rational and irrational;  the connection of my healing process with my creativity; the link between nature and humans; and the connection of past events with the present.

You have recently been dealing with serious health issues. As some of your oil paintings show monsters, do they symbolise your greatest fears?

Karima: Yes! As I mentioned, I am interested in the unconscious, and using art to access and express the primitiveness of my persona, so my paintings were purposely done with emotional charged sessions, where I would cry, laugh, get angry sad and scared while applying pigment to the paper.

How do you deal with worries?

Karima: With therapy: by expressing and accepting the emotion of the moment; with art: searching for creative ways to channel emotions; with meditation: by emptying my mind and focusing on the transcendental space that exists within us; and doing exercise: sweating out the excess of stress and energy.

IMG_5541What does art mean to you?

Karima: Art is the way each individual portrays their version of life in that particular time and space. In my case, art is a way to channel emotions, research ideas and concepts, art means actions that connect me with other people, a profession that generates an income; a way to learn from my ancestors; a documentation of my life, and art explores life’s meaning.

You work with different creative techniques. What made you choose shiny aluminium?

Karima: I wanted to paint differently. Aluminum process’ is new and exciting to me. Using this material is very tactile, is like collaging with one color tone, that may vary when creating different textures. When cutting, gluing, crushing, crumbling and unfolding aluminum, the chances of breaking it are good. However, the metallic- sharp-burning- wind sounds it produces when manipulating makes the effort worth it. I enjoy aluminum a lot. The more I use it, I found its possibilities endless.

You have produced wonderful mandalas that complement each other in a playful and joyful way. What is the story behind them?

Karima: Painting mandalas became the daily activity that would bring me joy when I left the hospital. As I would gain strength, I would spend as much time doing them in nature. I started to feel stronger and found that dedicating them to other people was very satisfying and felt good. So each one of the mandalas is done in a state of peace and compassion with the intention of sending love to others.

Who introduced you to the Jungian concept of Shadow and what does it mean to you?

Karima: Dr. Carlos de Leon, my Body & Mind Therapy Diploma teacher. And to me, the Shadow is a part of ourselves we repressed as we grow up and society told us certain actions and behaviours were unacceptable. So we block them in our ‘shadow’ which is held in our bodies and the reptilian brain. There is great potential in the Shadow, not all is necessary negative, for example in an insecure person the Shadow contains their security and self-esteem power.

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You have arranged several metallic surfaces in a way that reminds the viewer of star alignments. Are you referring to a specific one?

Karima: I create my own internal constellations. Organic Light installation was invented for the walls of XChanges Gallery in Victoria, B.C.

Where are you the happiest?

Karima: When I am in nature.

What is your greatest achievement?

Karima: Moving on my own to Canada.

I had the pleasure of meeting you mother Claudia during the set-up of your art show, and meeting your Dad who remained in Mexico City, but was able to follow your artist reception via Skype. What have your parents taught you most?

Karima: That there is nothing permanent, we are always changing.

What do you need right now the most?

Karima: An effective treatment to treat my acromegaly.

Karim, thank you very much for this interview.

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More information about the artist:

Photographs by Daniela Herold (Copyright 2017)

 

Learning from ‘the man and the beast’: amazing Picasso exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Conversation with Picasso

“Go and do the things you can’t. That is how you get to do them.”

Things I have learned from Pablo Picasso:

– keep an open and curious mind – it will inform your creativity
– be open to change
– keep exploring and learning, don’t get stuck in your ways
– be free in your expression, don’t censure yourself
– be succinct and clear
– reduce to the max

Conversation with PICASSO

“I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else. ”

Conversation with PICASSO

“Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.”

Conversation with PICASSO

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

“Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) remains one of the most celebrated artists of all time. Contemporary art critic Robert Hughes wrote: “No painter or sculptor, not even Michelangelo, [was] as famous as this in his own lifetime.” Picasso was a champion of abstract art, which has come to define the avant-garde in the 20th century.

A Spanish-born artist who spent his adult life in France, Picasso’s artistic production spans over six decades, making him one of the most prolific artists of the modern era. His celebrated Blue and Rose Periods (1901-1906) marked his first decade in Paris. These early canvases are known for their deep, cool palette, often featuring people from Picasso’s circle of friends, while the Rose Period brought warmer, brighter hues of orange and pink, with figures from the theatre, ballet, and circus.

Cubism in its Analytic and Synthetic phases (1909-1919) developed when Picasso joined forces with French artist Georges Braque, and the two began experimenting with the composition of the object and picture plane. As they dismantled and re-assembled forms into various states, often with multiple perspectives and angles, Cubism was born.

While embracing elements of Classicism and Surrealism in both artistic and literary circles into the mid decades of the last century, Picasso never stopped exploring new themes and techniques in his art. His total artistic output is estimated in the thousands, including paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and ceramics. He married twice and had four children by three women.” (Source: WAG)

For more information about the amazing exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) – ‘Pablo Picasso, man and beast’ (May 13 until Aug 13, 2017), click here.

Oscillatio – a show about the reverberation of the heart

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Canadian artists Sarah Cowan and Connie Michele Morey have spent this last year in a mutual and collaborative journey that has included a joint drumming practice as well as “personal, philosophical and studio exchanges – that have resulted in the unfolding of a resonant body of work.” An inspiring exhibition for the month of January that put a smile on my face every time I walked through our gallery XChanges in Victoria, B.C. No matter how often I was passing by those hundreds of small felt balls of every colour and size pinned against the while gallery wall, I enjoyed seeing their grey shadows move from right to left, feeling light and inspired. ‘Quirky’, ‘magical’ and ‘fun’ come to mind, when looking at Sarah’s and Connie’s pieces of art – elaborate and intricate paper installations, delicate drawings or a little toy sheep, whose head and legs are sticking out of a ball of felt. 

Connie and Sarah – What kind of work has your current show ‘Oscillatio’ been focussing on?

Connie and Sarah: Our show consists of installation and sculptural work that makes use of materials and techniques related to contemporary craft (paper, felt, thread, fabric, wood). The work centers on the theme Oscillatio.

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Where does the ‘Oscillatio’ come from?

Connie and Sarah: It originates from the notion of Oscillation – a back and forth movement. It is the reverberation that the heart makes while beating, the back and forth movement of the tides, the vibration of a viola string or the sway of the movement of walking and dancing.

When things oscillate they move around a center. Does that have any relevance in your work?

Connie and Sarah: Indeed. Our work has developed out of an oscillation between ourselves, and our practices as artists. Ove the last 14 months, Sarah and I have engaged in a back and forth movement of sharing our practice and live experience.

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As a viewer, what qualities do you think make for an interesting piece of art? What piques your interest personally?

Sarah: This is a hard question to answer. I don’t have a specific genre that I like exclusively. I am most intrigued with any work that makes me want to look at it more. Work that pulls me in and makes me ask questions, not so much about the process but more about what the artist is asking themselves and what it asks of me. I like work that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable, when I feel compelled to turn away but at the same time intensely drawn to it. And then, there is just beauty.

Connie: I feel inspired when I look at a work of art that is both visceral and critically engaged, a work that invites you to look at the world from new perspectives. I appreciate work that engages an aesthetic experience in the viewer.

What do you mean by aesthetic experience – the opposite of an anaesthetic, which functions to numb your senses?

Connie (laughing): Yes, something that wakes up your senses and makes you feel alive.   To produce a work of art that can wake up the body, soul and mind simultaneously takes great insight and trust in the creative process. Works that induce inspiration for making, thinking and moving are gifts to the world.

paper art

Do you sometimes look at particularly inspiring work of art and have a strong visceral response?

Connie: Absolutely – I literally want to jump, dance, speak, write or make in response to it. Annette Messager, Louise Bourgeois and Ann Hamilton are artists whose work has this kind of effect on me. Hiraki Sawa’s recent exhibition at AGGV also elicited a visceral and joyful response in me. I found it inspiring, full stop. Work that challenges me to think on a deep intuitive level and also elicits a visceral response is a catalyst for creative engagement with the world; art that offers that kind of experience is a gift.

 

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Being an artist can sometimes be really frustrating. What are the obstacles you’ve run into and how do you go about navigating around them?

Sarah: The biggest obstacle I contend with is myself. I doubt myself all the time. You see, I don’t really think I am a very good artist so I need to keep working at it. I now know that it is what I need to do. Whether I am good or not doesn’t really come into it (but it’s lovely when things do work out!). A day or two away from the studio is very disconcerting for me now.

Connie: Being an artist is a gift, an absolute pleasure. I know that there are limitations that make it challenging for people in general to make art; e.g. financial constraints that put limitations on the artist’s time, or instances when people struggle with developing ideas or trusting themselves as artists. However, I honestly don’t think of these things as limitations – they are important parts of the process of engaging with the world through making and they inform art practice in essential ways.

Sarah: I agree – they provide openings for us to know ourselves better as artists.

Connie: Sure, I would love more time to make art, but it is ok that I have to struggle for that time. As for the process of developing ideas and engaging with the process of making… truthfully, I have great trust in the process of making. It is a space where I can let things unfold on a deep intuitive level with joy and relatively little effort. The process of making art, like writing, is a process where I feel completely at home with myself.

felt balls

When you go into ‘work mode’, do you have a particular agenda or something in mind that you are hoping for?

Connie: I think in a way I am always in ‘work mode’… even when I am teaching or driving a car, reading to my daughter, dancing or preparing breakfast I am in the process of making. I see the boundaries between different areas of my life as very fluid and open. Art is a way of engaging with the world for me. Art works are markers of that continuous process.

Sarah: When I go into ‘work mode’ it’s usually materially based. I have an idea about creating or exploring with a material to see what I can come up with. Or, I see another artist’s work and it inspires me to try or play. I am never without my sketchbook and use it constantly to explore or just play. My legacy to my son will be my sketchbooks!!!

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Both of you have an interest in working with felt, paper and mixed media. Where did you get the idea for a collaborative exhibition?

Sarah: Connie called me one day in 2013 and asked if I would be interested in putting in a proposal to Xchanges. We have a similar sympathy and sensibility in our art practice as well as our personal philosophy toward life. I admire so much Connie’s approach to her work; her dedication and commitment as well as her all out passion and creativity!

Connie: We’ve often met in each other’s studios and talked about the points of intersection between our work and the ways that each of our practices has impacted each other. Although articulated through different means, our work shares certain commonalities in its intricacy, repetition, and focus on care-full processes that are in some ways obsessive. I’ve been inspired by Sarah’s work since an exhibition she had in 2012 at Xchanges. We were delighted when the jury accepted our application and we started drumming together and meeting on a monthly basis to share ideas, work and life experience.

Connie, what have been your two favourite shows that you have done and why?

Connie: I don’t know if I can speak of whole shows that are my favourite… this is a difficult question for me. Making art is significantly about the process for me. Sharing the work through an exhibition is important too, but more because it is an opportunity to exchange – and in this sense is really a process in itself. The finished work is less important than the processes of making it, sharing it and shifting perspectives through that sharing.

It sounds like collaborating is integral to your process?

Connie: Absolutely, and more so as time goes on. I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with Sarah and with other artists, writers, scientists, and philosophers to expand my thinking through making. I don’t think of exhibitions as finished works, so this question is hard for me to answer.

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Sarah, what have been your two favourite shows that you have done and why?

My favourite show was my graduation exhibition at the Vancouver Island School of Art in 2011. I converted one of the closets into a drawing using pen & ink, charcoal, wire, paint, thread, paper, photo-transfers, pins and other mixed media. The other show was at Xchanges where I took the idea of the closet, the contained space, the safe space, and built a free-standing closet drawing on the walls and ceiling. Both of these exhibitions were based on my long history of living with an eating disorder and trying to find my own space in the world.

Any upcoming events?

Connie: I think Oscillatio is the beginning of future collaborations.

Sarah: Indeed. We will be showing together in another group exhibition in May, and have plans to collaborate for another show in November 2015.

Connie and Sarah, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with my readers.

About:

Sarah Cowan plays with the concept of connection/disconnection between her internal self and her relationship with the external world. The materials she uses are pen and ink drawings, text and thread, oil paint, paper cut work and now needle felted sculpture. She graduated from the Vancouver Island School of Art in 2011 with a Diploma in Fine Arts and continues her art practice in association with Gallery 1580 as resident curator.

www.gallery1580.com

Connie M. Morey is an artist, writer, teacher and practice-based researcher whose work is ecologically situated.  Her current studio practice includes the permeable genres of installation, sculpture, contemporary craft, performance, ceramics, drawing, painting, artist’s books and critical-creative writing. She received her BFA (Visual Arts) from the University of Lethbridge in 1995, an M.Ed. (Art Education) in 2007 and is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Victoria.

http://www.conniemorey.com/

Painted canvas relief structures as conversation pieces

Transformation of found domestic and industrial objects into intimate paintings

'Emotionally driven' series at XChanges Gallery in Victoria, B.C.

‘Emotionally driven’ series by Tanta Pennington at XChanges Gallery in Victoria, B.C.

 

As a studio member of Xchanges Gallery in Victoria, I had the pleasure of seeing painted canvas relief structures by local artist Tanta Pennington in our exhibition room every day for the month of March. Depending on my mood, I could suddenly relate to ‘Hope’ whereas an hour before ‘Compassion’ was talking to me. One morning I found myself only drawn to the black paintings whereas the evening before the white structures appealed to me. How does the artist explain this interaction between her art and the observer?

Tanta: I think most people are surprised. They are surprised that the pieces are small, surprised that they are one colour and surprised that pure abstract shapes can start an internal dialogue of questions.

'Surprise' by Tanta Pennington

‘Surprise’ by Tanta Pennington

Can you tell us more about your series ‘Emotionally driven’?

Tanta: The series was initiated through the gathering of ordinary objects. By transforming found domestic and industrial objects into intimate paintings and only using the colours, white, grey or black, I have discovered a new form of self-expression.

You have been working on the series for the last three years, making almost forty pieces.

Tanta: Each one has started with a 10 in. x 8 in. canvas support. As I attach found objects I start to think about composition, textures and how I can weave them all together. The covering process is very peaceful and tactical. Sometimes I dip, then pour, but usually I scoop handfuls of paint and lay it slowly and carefully on the surface. Depending on the layers of paint each piece can take up to several months to dry.

The large piece Genesis is a combination of all the paintings, I would add onto it as I made the small ones, so even though it was the last one finished it was really the beginning.

'Hope' by Tanta Pennington

‘Hope’ by Tanta Pennington

Your pieces are titled e.g. ‘lust’, ‘compassion’, ‘envy’, ‘hope’, ‘surprise’, ‘regret’. Do they epitomize your very personal emotion at the time of their creation?

Tanta: After each piece was finished I would spend time observing it, looking at the shadows, how the paint would sit on the surface, and how everything had amalgamated. Then I would wait for the emotion to surface. Only then would I name the piece and write the Haiku.

What materials do you use?

Tanta: My painted canvas relief structures are made out of wire, wool, and screws, combined with objects made from metal, wood, and plastic. I like to amalgamate found materials and handmade objects with traditional methods of execution such as painting and drawing to create modern, innovative pieces.

Do you ever work on many pieces at the same time?

Tanta: Yes, I do! I tend to go back and forth between making sculptures, installations, wall works, paintings and drawings. And I am comfortable working in either a small or large scale.

What makes you tick as an artist?

Tanta: I have a restless and fertile imagination. Shapes, colours, and bits of conversations are constantly seducing me. It just happens. Sometimes I envy friends that can just walk down the road and only see the road.

What or who inspires you?

Tanta: Opulent shop windows, hardware stores, construction sites, shadows and back alleys.

If you could have a conversation with one of the following artists, who would you choose? Constantin Brancusi, Auguste Rodin, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Victor Vasarely or M.C. Escher?

Tanta: I would invite Auguste Rodin and M.C. Escher to late dinner at Chez Denise in Les Halles, Paris. I would let the vin rouge flow and just listen to them talk as the waiters danced their ballet around us.

Tanta, thank you for sharing your thoughts with my audience.

About:

Tanta DeStaffany Pennington is based in Victoria, Canada and is a Fine Arts Diploma and Independent Studio Program graduate from the Vancouver Island School of Art. Tanta has exhibited work at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria International Airport, The Victoria Conference Centre, and local galleries. Tanta participated in the International 2011 Florence Biennale. Her work is in collections in Western Canada, Hawaii, California, and Italy.

XChanges Gallery Victoria BC
Gallery Hours 2:00-4:00 Saturday & Sunday
This exhibition runs through to Sunday, March 30 th, 2014

 

Seen today – ‘Living with all kinds’ by Trish Shwart

Art works showing interaction between human species and animal world

My dog Merlin is soaking wet. After a one-hour-hike in the pouring rain he’s ready for a nap, while I am looking forward to having an Americano and a chat with painter Trisha Shwart, who is currently showing a small body of her work ‘Living with all kinds’ in Victoria, B.C. But not yet: at first my loyal companion of 5 years needs to be dried, given water and a cookie. And while I am stroking his head before saying good-bye, I marvel about the miracle of this incredible bond between an animal and a human being.

Sign Language

Sign Language by Trish Shwart

Trish, your work shows encounters between humans and animals. How do you think fit animals into our society and culture?

Trish : That is what I have been trying to figure out. We seem to categorize animals – for instance into groups such as dogs and cats, then into the ones we eat, and those we are scared of.

A segregation into different categories?

Trish: Indeed. They are “cute” or “food” or “dangerous” – and we allocate certain characteristics to the animals in each of these categories. Cute pets, for example, are often described as being emotionally intelligent. They instinctively know what their owner likes or finds annoying. We know that an animal can be an effective therapy for people who are sick or stressed.

And there are the ones we eat …

Trish: Few of us who live in a city have ever had daily contact with these animals. Perhaps as a balm to our own discomfort, we wrongly describe the animals we eat (cows, pigs, fish, chickens) as ‘dumb’ and ‘unfeeling’.

We cage dangerous animals for our safe viewing (in zoos) and mythologize them as predatory (cougars, lions, tigers). They live on our terms in the environments we create for them.

Bird Dog, Acrylic on Paper

Bird Dog, Acrylic on Paper by Trish Shwart

And yet we admire them.

Trish: Correct – we refer to people as having “eagle eyes” or the “strength of a lion” or being “smart like a fox”.

So, what does the way in which we segregate animals tell us about our own species?

Trish: As it turns out several big thinkers, philosophers and scientists have spent a lot of time thinking about this very topic. I don’t begin to presume that I can answer the question, but I hope my paintings and drawings initiate the kinds of conversations that might help us get some answers.

You are using mixed media in most of your artwork?

Trish: Yes, I am aiming at connecting painting and photography. In a world where there are so many options I deliberately merge the two media to tell a more complex story. I let the photograph do the work.

What does art mean for you?

Trish: The freedom – which admittedly is first world luxury – to think about whatever I want to paint, whenever I want. It is an incredible opportunity that lets me follow my imagination.

Anniversary Dance, Mixed media

Anniversary Dance, Mixed media, by Trish Shwart

“I am still thinking about how we relate to animals. Some we keep as pets, some we eat and some we fear. In some cultures children are told that they have an animal spirit that becomes a totem for them. In The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman individuals have their own animal daemon. They cannot survive without their daemon and when their daemon feels pain, so do the humans. In this image I am playing with what is real and what isn’t real. Are we connected to animal spirits? Are these people with masks?”

A small body of Trish Shwart’s work dealing with how we relate to animals is showing at Bubby’s Kitchen located in the Cook St village in Victoria, BC.  until the end of this month. The work asks questions about connections with animals and our ability to know our own selves.

About the artist:

Trishshwart.com

Exhibition ‘Winter Salon’ at XChanges Gallery

Winter Salon Poster PRINT

Visual & artistic cornucopia

Last night’s opening reception of our Annual Members’ Exhibition, “Winter Salon” at the XChanges Gallery in Victoria, B.C., was a great success! Hung in traditional salon style, the gallery was packed with small works of art creating an experience of visual and artistic cornucopia. 40 studio and non-studio members are participating. Today, all nine of our studios – housing 20 artists – were open to the public.

The  exhibition continues on Dec 8, 14 & 15, 12-4pm or by appointment.

“Xchanges is a member-driven artists’ cooperative operating a gallery and affordable studios for practicing artists”, says Gallery Coordinator Rachel Hellner. “Many of Victoria’s artists in the past 45 years have been involved with Xchanges. Some have had their first solo exhibition here; others have given classes, been active members, and had studios in one of the 4 locations which we have inhabited over the years. Xchanges is currently home to a gallery exhibition space and studios rented to member artists, including the darkroom of Crossgrain Photographic Society. Life Drawing, Portrait, and Sculpture sessions in the main gallery attract an average of 30 or more outside artists per month.”

Over the years, Xchanges has hosted events such as poetry readings, concerts, jam sessions, filmmakers’ nights, film festivals, theatre performances, the Mayday Erotica festival, art workshops for both adults and children, and multicultural events such as a monthly Tango Night, exhibitions by the local Native womens’ group, Wild Women, and exchange exhibitions produced by Ground Zero Printmakers exhibiting works from South Africa, New Zealand, and Quebec. The non-commercial gallery features work by local emerging and established artists.

More information: http://xchangesgallery.org/index.htm

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