Shoebox Stories is on until April 28 at Colborne Art Gallery, Thursday-Sundays, 12-4 pm. Here are a few pictures.
My blog has been quiet for the last few months, but there was a lot of work going on behind the curtains. I have been involved in a very interesting project with artist Marissa Sweet. Marissa approached me two years ago with an idea for a collaborative show. We had known and admired each other’s work from the various shows in our region, so this resounded with me on several levels. Firstly, as a creative opportunity to try something new, my curiosity was piqued. Secondly, the ever-present background noise of doubt was a sign of a worthwhile challenge to get out of he proverbial comfort zone. And thirdly, my personal fears kicked in. Will I be able to work with another artist towards a common goal? How will my artistic vision correlate with hers? After all, we artists are notorious individualists and idealists. Can we get along? Would I have to compromise? make concessions? accommodate? give up my vision? The questions kept coming, but deep down I knew that I could only answer these questions if I took up the challenge. I like to try most things at least once just for the experience’s sake. I jumped aboard.
We were lucky enough that our vision found a perfect match in mounting the exhibit and present it to the public. The venue is the beautiful Aurora Cultural Centre, an old schoolhouse and heritage building turned into a cultural hub and art gallery. The staff at the Centre was simply amazing and receptive to our project and in bringing it to life. We titled our show Passage Between Two Worlds. It opens on July 18, 1-4 pm, and closes on September 12.
We had numerous creative sessions and went through some serious brainstorming. We decided that the best format to adopt was a “conversation”. I thought of the famous scene from the movie Deliverance, the “dueling banjos” where two humans from an entirely different background come together for a short spell and have a musical dialogue in complete harmony and mutual understanding. This was a great concept for our project. We would let our imagination and inspiration lead us, without restraints.
First, we surveyed our existing body of work and whatever inspired us from it, whether a subject, a colour, a form, or an obscure element, we took it and “answered” it with a new work. As we got to know each other better, we encouraged and challenged each other to try new things. Marissa took me plein air painting. It was more like plein air drawing with me, and I immersed myself into drawing with pastels and chalk – and I absolutely loved it! In turn, I encouraged Marissa to explore the deeper layers of the unconscious self, and express it on canvas. These experiences resulted in some serious efforts from both of us.
We had also discovered that despite our different backgrounds and roots, we had many similar interests. We are both emigrants that left our birth countries as young women. We share a love of folklore and mythology. These subjects also turned into paintings and sculptures. I was especially happy to create a Hungarian dancer, because this was my first attempt at exploring my ethnicity. Marissa created a painting of Hungarian dancers, and in turn I sculpted a Philippine dancer. It was lovely to discover the playful yet graceful movements of the Philippine dances. We both created works of the spectacular candle dance that is performed by women.
As the intuitive process unfolded, we became aware that this venture had turned auto-biographical, involving more and more facets of our identity, our journey, our Canadian-ness, its influence on our inner self and artistic self that was forged mainly here, in Canada. Several works deal with this theme, but the epitome of this journey and the best representation of our goal as a creative dialogue between the two mediums and the two artists is our installation titled Bridge. I created the form and Marissa painted it, then we both worked on the element that connects the two pieces. It was a blast! In my mind we have fulfilled all that we hoped for in this journey of collaboration, and perhaps even surpassed it.
Here is a work-in-progress detail shot of Bridge.