Amber Powell, preparator with the Vernon Public Art Gallery, touches up the paint around one of Heather Huston’s pieces as part of the exhibition, The Body, Stranger, opening at the gallery Thursday, Jan. 14.

Amber Powell, preparator with the Vernon Public Art Gallery, touches up the paint around one of Heather Huston’s pieces as part of the exhibition, The Body, Stranger, opening at the gallery Thursday, Jan. 14.

New exhibitions at VPAG create dialogue around mortality

Series of exhibitions opening at the Vernon Public Art Gallery provide a unique perspective on the human experience.

The human experience, whether it be physical, social, environmental, mental or as an outlet to express art, all configure in four new exhibitions opening at the Vernon Public Art Gallery.

The exhibitions feature the work of Calgary-based print artist Heather Huston (The Body, Stranger), Vancouver-based  photographer Brad McMurray (Urbicus Topia), Kelowna photo artist Kelsie Balehowsky (conscious|unconsciousness) and tattoo artists from Vernon’s Five Fathoms Tattoo shop (Extracurricular).

“This series of exhibitions all provide a unique perspective on mortality, opening the door to dialogue on our environment, varying personal challenges and social view points,” said gallery executive director Dauna Kennedy Grant.

In The Body, Stranger, Huston exhibits a body of work focused on the imagery derived from her personal experiences.

The exhibition explores Huston’s interest in social constructions of illness and the greater narratives employed to understand and define these experiences.

The work also questions the assumptions about the identity of a patient who presumes and fears certain limitations and qualities that are associated with a chronic autoimmune condition.

Despite the exhibition title, which might suggest utopian urban settings, McMurray’s large-scale, photographs reveal the dystopian quality of his urban subjects. His sensibility is focused on urban environments that no longer function as their original intended purpose and his images often conjure up the narratives of neglect, decay, and abandonment, and are sometimes juxtaposed with new urban development.

McMurray’s images are carefully composed in-situ (in their original place) and are printed uncropped with minimal digital manipulation.

Balehowsky’s artwork is focused on her lens-based and digital assembly studio practice.

The body of images in her exhibition, conscious|unconsciousness, is an inquiry into the states of being and the human condition mapped through Freudian investigation into the subject of aesthetics and its propensity of invoking feelings.

Balehowsky focuses on the quality of images, which can be considered both surreal and uncanny as a proposition, and contrary to Freud’s thoughts, that the strange combination of visual elements can in turn reveal the true state of our existence.

For Nick Matovich, Andrew McDonald, Jessie “Miss Beans” Beans and Jeremy Mathieson, being creative is a nine-to-five job.

Clients come into their Five Fathoms Tattoo shop to have them create an image that is symbolic of their personal stories and experiences. The clients’ bodies become a walking art gallery, exhibiting a collaboration of both the artist and the client.

Extracurricular is an exhibition that provides viewers the opportunity to see what the artists at Five Fathoms create when they are not bound by their clients’ desires and wishes.

The exhibition space will feature a variety of artwork done beyond their regular duties as tattoo artists, while also providing a small contrasting glimpse of their work lives at Five Fathoms Tattoo.

An opening reception will be held for all four exhibitions at the VPAG Thursday, Jan. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. The public is welcome to enjoy an evening of contemporary art, locally crafted beer and wine, and appetizers at the gallery, located at 3228 31st Ave.

 

Vernon Morning Star

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