By Robin Laurence
PERSONAL + MATERIAL GEOGRAPHIES: CRAFT AT THE CENTRE
Il Museo, Italian Cultural Centre, Vancouver. Sep 10 – Dec 11
Curated by Mary-Beth Laviolette, this show spotlights the work of 23 BC artists. Among its timely themes is the belief that craft is a powerful creative force “enabling cultural survival during periods of social disruption.” The show also demonstrates parallel traditions: those of the province’s First Nations and those of its Asian- and European-descended populations. Through the works exhibited here – from loosely woven “fish traps” to ceramic “baby dolls” – the show reveals the importance of both individual creativity and community- knowledge transmission.
MERYL MCMASTER: AS IMMENSE AS THE SKY
Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History, Nelson. Sep 26, 2020 – Feb 28, 2021
Born in Ottawa of Plains Cree and European ancestry, acclaimed artist Meryl McMaster has created a powerful body of identity-probing work by photographing herself – often wearing elaborate costumes, headdresses and makeup – within the vast landscape. In her recent series, she poses questions about the passage of time, the cycle of life, and the relationship between human beings and the natural world. Travelling from Newfoundland to the Prairies, she has situated herself beside glistening tidal pools, atop immense boulders, and in the midst of grassy plains.
KELSEY STEPHENSON: FLUX
Vernon Public Art Gallery, Vernon. To Sep 30
Alberta artist Kelsey Stephenson has created an installation of large, screen-printed silk panels that immerse viewers in a sensory experience of her province’s major waterways. Complemented by a soundtrack recorded at watershed sites depicted here, along Alberta rivers and at the glaciers and ice fields at their source, the installation asks us to consider the ways in which landscape both shapes us and is shaped by us. An inevitable subtext here is the impact melting glaciers will have on human settlement.
PRAIRIE INVASIONS: A LULLABY
Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond. To Oct 18
The descendant of Russian Mennonite immigrants, Emily Neufeld has created monumental photographs that record her encounters with abandoned farmhouses on the Canadian Prairies. She spent two years researching and photographing these structures, focusing not only on the collapsed roofs, peeling paint and debris-strewn floors, but also on natural elements she laboriously introduced into the interiors. Grids of wildflowers tacked to the wall, clods of dirt and prairie grasses beside a single bed – all speak to human connection to place.
NEXT SPRING: KATRINA VERA WONG
Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Vancouver. To Nov 1
Artist, writer and zine editor, Katrina Vera Wong draws from a range of literary, botanical and visual art sources to create hybrid flower works that she calls “Frankenflora.” With great delicacy and precision, she pieces together pressed or dried parts – petals, leaves, stems, branches – from a wide variety of flowers and plants to create genetically impossible new floral forms. Among her inspirations are ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging); the writing of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley and Emily Dickinson; and the “nonsense botany” of Edward Lear.