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Years ago I was asked by a student if I could teach him to draw a tree. “Of course,” I replied “What kind of tree do you want to draw? What do you want to draw on? What do you want to draw with? What do you want to say about the tree? Do you want to capture an exact likeness or is the tree a metaphor for something?”. “I just want to draw a tree!” he replied.
This interaction reinforced for me that art has room for many different responses. It can be to capture nature in its beauty and intricacy or the imagination and message of the artist can be the priority. Realism, abstraction, contemporary art, conceptual art, modern art, post-modern art, cultural art, art that challenges society…. There is no one way to create art, nor should there be. If there were we would be going backwards in time.
However, there should be truth. Art should be true to the artist and what he/she has to say.
“Flowing Together” is the title for this exhibition. My work reflects this in the flow of ideas and styles. I have been following a path that starts with chaos and ends with form and order. The backgrounds have become more distressed and random but out of that chaos I have sought to bring something that speaks to my experiences.
The flying figure is myself diving as a teenager. The pigeon refers to one that I raised and who gave me companionship at a time when I was alone. The arbutus trees are resident to the West Coast and are continually seeking light. Even the acrylic on paper images started quite randomly and the order came from a response to the shapes, colours, spaces etc. that the works provided.
Bob Steele, a former art prof at UBC, talked about “Authentic Personal Imagery” from which I have extrapolated my desire for truth in the work. Truth challenges artists to be more than copiers or representatives for commercial success. It calls them to be creators, to be original, to be risk takers and to produce something that costs them something. Earlier in my career one of the worst times was when I visited someone else’s show. I found myself trying to fit my work into their style because they had obviously succeeded in the art world. I lost sight of my own truth. Truth found me when I got out of the way.