AOTP Symposium 2011

Authentically Yours, the Artist

by Jody Farrell

The annual Art of the Peace Symposium has a reputation for giving creative souls everywhere a healthy
dose of motivation just as those darker months set in. The weekend-long event, which runs from
October 14-16, 2011, in Dawson Creek, BC, is full of mind-expanding talks, images, and hands-on work. Its
presenters are all heavily immersed in the visual arts, and no one walks away without feeling moved at
some level. This year’s speakers include Calgary artists Carl White and Shona Rae, and Dawson Creek-based
artist Jennifer Bowes.

 

A Name For Your Sea, Carl White

CARL WHITE was born in England and lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, where he graduated from Alberta College of Art and Design (Four Year Diploma in graphic design, painting, and drawing) in 1992.

His paintings, which have been shown in many group and solo exhibitions over the last 19 years, are richly layered and drawn from a wide range of interests. White’s father introduced him to the work of masters such as Rembrandt, instilling an understanding of light and shadows prominent in White’s own luminous works. He credits literature and music of every kind, and even earlier years of skateboarding, with having influenced his art.

In a May 2011 review of his recent exhibition Istoria, writer Marcella Ducasses comments on how White’s highly vivid,historically-driven imagery, still manages to be authentic and fresh:

“Despite the rich allegorical and historical references, White’s work is unmistakably contemporary in its execution. The subject matter may evoke painters of another era, but his expressive brushstrokes, spontaneous and at times violent splashes of exuberant colours, glossy finishes and drips of paint left to their own devices, along with his signature scriptural markings, are White’s — and White’s alone,” Ducasses writes.

“I am interested almost entirely in the process, the act of creation and joining the flow,” White says today. “The work itself is the residue, the dust, the skin that has been shed. I am deeply contradictory in that I often begin in an intellectual pursuit only to try wholeheartedly to break free of it once the painting begins.”

Beauty, Shona Rae

SHONA RAE graduated from The Aberta College of Art and Design with a BFA in 2005. Ten years prior to receiving that degree, the ceramist of 30 years had become enthralled with goldsmithing, a fascination brought on by a series of dreams that led to a new perception that “metal is clay.”

Throughout the winter of 1994-95, night after night, Rae dreamed of hammering metal. Her work had always been inspired by her keen interest in ancient myth, religion and prehistoric archaeological finds. Now, in addition to her already substantial knowledge and mastery of clay, Rae chose to study metals to better render the visions she’d had in those dreams. Her sculptural art jewellery has since won her numerous awards in both Europe and North America.

“I want to celebrate the human inclination to decorate our person and our environment with contemporary artifacts,” Rae says today. She forges, casts, carves and constructs precious metals, sterling silver, gold, and other materials, into symbols re-imagined from imagery found in archeology, mythology and folklore.

Rae’s presentation for the 2011 AOTP Symposium will feature 22 sculptures she has been working on since 1998. These works, entitled Fairy-tales, Folklore and Mythcommunication… include a series of miniature, precious metal sculptures that reference rings and draw the viewer into the story on a conceptual and intimate level, Rae says.

“My lifelong fascination and study of fairy-tales, folklore, religion, myth and Jungian philosophy is the major influence in my artwork. I believe that in our urge to tell stories we seek to give order and meaning to our lives, explain natural phenomena, the complexities of life, (…) the human condition.”

Dream of Scipio, Jennifer Bowes

JENNIFER BOWES is an Alberta-born artist and graduate of the University of Alberta (BFA, 1999; MFA 2003). She has taught at both the U of A and Grande Prairie’s Regional College and currently teaches at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek.

At the Symposium, Bowes will be covering her works over the last decade, beginning with those related to her masters thesis, in which she argued that a drawing can be made using only texture and shadow, with media other than the usual drawing tools. Her fibre and paper sculptures feature meticulously knotted, knitted, or handsewn work, and speak volumes about the artist’s quiet dedication and resolve.

Her most recent creations have Bowes imposing these repetitious techniques onto paper and then removing them. The final product features what has been left behind. “My work tends to be painstaking and labourious,” she explains. Bowes also spent time in the mountains of Field, BC, and in the Italian Alps, where her surroundings sometimes left her feeling overwhelmed. She wanted to capture this sense of awe in her art, which she sees as being both reactive and expressive. Hundreds of hours of small, quiet, repeated gestures produce an artwork whose “silent voice becomes very present,” Bowes says.

Artist and colleague Sarah Alford says Bowes’ decade of teaching has developed an unmatched devotion to both the program she undertakes and the students she prepares.

“I’ve never met anyone who works so hard,” Alford remarks. “I would even say the (Northern Lights) College itself may have underestimated Jenn’s ambition.”

Bowes is responsible for initiating a visual culture program aimed at preparing students to critically evaluate their own visual production and the visual environment that surrounds them. Alford says these new courses put Dawson Creek “in line with programs in Canada’s major art colleges and universities.”


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