Bird by Katherine Russell

Landmarks off to a rocky start at Centre 64



The new exhibition, ‘Landmarks’, in the Gallery at Centre 64 got off to a rocky start this week when the work of two of the three artists involved failed to arrive in time for hanging. Due to problems in dispatching the artworks from Black Diamond, Alberta, Centre 64 administrator Christine Besold has been told that these works will not now arrive until next week. Meanwhile, the gallery is open daily from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and visitors can view the glass works of Elkford artist, Katherine Russell.

Russell, who earned a BFA in glass art at the Alberta College of Arts & Design in 2006, carries out all her cold glass work at her Elkford studio but does her hot glass work at Firebrand Studio in Black Diamond, the home studio of the other two participating artists in the ‘Landmarks’ exhibition, and the ‘hot shop’ where she received much of her early glass-blowing experience.

“The theme of this group exhibition is an examination of the prairie landscape from multiple perspectives,” states Russell. “As artists who have lived and worked in the prairies and in Australia, we noticed the commonalities between the aesthetics of the desert outback and the prairies. The common perception is that each of these landscapes is empty and yet both of these places are full of textures, qualities of light and moments that inspire our diverse practices. The work in this exhibit will explore the beauty and culture of this pared down landscape.

“I saw the Australian Outback the slow way,” she explains. “I travelled through it by train for 3 days straight … with nothing to take my eyes off that horizon. I hiked hundreds of kilometres …. I sat for days on the forest floor …. To hear it referred to as “empty land” is both confusing to me, and a challenge to prove otherwise.

It is through a similar lens that I see Alberta’s Foothills when I travel (from) my home in Elkford to Black Diamond. It’s a stunning drive …. I catch sight of the wind …. by the shades in the wheat fields and the tilt of the weathered barns and fences. …. I think about the federal offering of free land to bring immigrant farmers here in the late 19th Century. And I consider what is here, and no longer here, because of such initiatives.

My work in this exhibition is a close look at these spaces, some for the clues to their stories and some purely for their wonder and magnificence.”

In addition to Russell, the ‘Landmarks’ exhibition will feature the two internationally acclaimed glass artists, Tyler Rock and Julia Reimer, who own Firebrand Glass in Black Diamond. These two artists have artworks in collections around the world, including the Prime Minister’s residence in Ottawa and the collection of the Emperor of Japan. Given these credentials, it is reasonable to expect that some exceptional glass art will join Russell’s in the Centre 64 gallery by the time the public reception is held on Saturday afternoon, February 10. The ‘Landmarks’ exhibition will continue at Centre 64 until February 24.

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