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Comox Valley Art Gallery welcomes new exhibit by Newfoundland artist Marlene Creates

“My artwork is where the inside (my thoughts) and the outside (my surroundings) meet.”
Newfoundland artist Marlene Creates (left) is installing her new exhibition at the Comox Valley Art Gallery. The exhibition runs from June 15 to Sept. 10, with the opening event set for June 16 at 7 p.m. Photo supplied

“My artwork is where the inside (my thoughts) and the outside (my surroundings) meet.”

–Marlene Creates

Marlene Creates, an internationally renowned environmental artist from Newfoundland, will present an artist talk at the Comox Valley Art Gallery Thursday, June 16, 7 p.m. at the opening event for her solo exhibition.

The exhibition, Marlene Creates: Works from Blast Hole Pond Road, Newfoundland 2002–2021, is running at CVAG from June 15 to Sept. 10.

Thursday’s opening event is free and everyone is welcome to attend. It will also be livestreamed, with details on the CVAG Facebook page.

“We are honoured to host such an important Canadian artist,” said CVAG co-curator Denise Lawson. “Marlene’s work is deeply rooted in place, and there is a special significance when such place-based work that was created on Canada’s eastern-most coast is experienced on the opposite side of the country.”

For more than 40 years Creates has explored the relationship between human experience, memory, language and the land, and the impact they have on each other. These themes have instigated upcoming community engagement with local schools and the wider community through artist talks and artist-led activities that connect to the exhibition.

On Wednesday, June 15, students and educators from Lake Trail School will participate in memory mapping, “an artistic and archival technique to preserve our own stories and record those of others.”

On Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Creates will lead a site-specific walk and make-art workshop in the forest at the Brian and Sarah McLoughlin Regional Park.

Space is limited and advance registration is required. Email for registration and information.

On Wednesday, June 22, from 5-7 p.m. Creates and long-time collaborator, poet Don McKay, will present an artist talk and poetry reading based on multidisciplinary nature walks in the Boreal Poetry Garden in Portugal Cove, NL, which are “part place-sensitive collaborative performance, part eco-poetry reading, part multi-sensorial live-art event, part socio-eco undertaking, and part creative gathering for arts and science.”

In 2002, Creates moved to Blast Hole Pond Road, near St. John’s. Since then, Creates’s principle artistic venture has been to pay close attention to one particular place – “six acres of boreal forest where I live.”

Her multidisciplinary creative process has led to the work presented in the CVAG exhibition.

“My past work almost always had its source in travel and it emerged from the perspective of a visitor, who pauses to observe and then moves on,” she said. “This work is the reverse: I imagine myself as the one who is being observed and instead of moving across the land, I am staying in one place, and the living world in my immediate surroundings is flowing past me.”

CVAG co-curator Angela Somerset said “Marlene’s practice integrates art and life – listening and looking – her artwork is a form of wayfinding through multiple narratives and ways of knowing. Positioned in the space between, her images and words operate as tellings – signs and markers of how we are together and apart from one another.”

In addition to many other awards, Creates received a 2019 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, and in 2021 she was invested into the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador.

CVAG is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibitions and events are free, with donations gratefully accepted.

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