Dick Averns: Illuminating Language
Dick Averns, Lookout (West Bank) (detail), 2009, archival digital print with laminate on 1/8" aircraft grade aluminum with cleats.

Dick Averns: Illuminating Language

Vernon Public Art Gallery, Vernon, BC - To Dec 20

by Michael Turner

If it is true we are approaching an era when our basic survival will require more of our time than anything we might make of it symbolically, then who will our artists be? Though traditional forms of art making will likely endure, expectations of what an artist is will only expand, as they have since the first cave paintings, with the artist showing up less in the usual places than in the most varied. Among these newer kinds of artists, Dick Averns comes to mind.

This survey exhibition marks Averns’ 30-year commitment to interdisciplinary text-based art, much of it focused on social justice, conflict, natural resources and mental wellness, for which Averns received a 2020 City of Calgary Mayor’s Cultural Leaders Legacy Award for Healing Through the Arts. A further measure of Averns’ success might be seen in where his work is collected. Is there another artist whose work can be found in both the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery and the collection of the Department of National Defence?

In addition to his work appearing throughout Canada, the US, Australia, the UK and the Middle East, Averns was an official Canadian war artist deployed with the Multinational Force and Observers, a lesser-known international peacekeeping outfit enlisted to monitor the first Arab-Israeli peace treaty. It was in this capacity that Averns was able to access the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, Palestine and Israel and, based on his findings, write and publish articles on official war art and what US President George W. Bush referred to in 2001 as the “Global War on Terror.”


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