The public is invited to attend Art Talk: engage at the Comox Valley Art Gallery this Saturday from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Admission is free or by donation. This talk will be a community panel discussing the themes from the current exhibition Towards Grace.
Towards Grace is an art exhibit consisting of art submissions from members of CVAG and the Comox Valley Community Arts Council, in partnership with the CV Justice Centre. Artists were asked to explore and respond to the themes around countering, healing, addressing and transforming the issues of racism, homophobia and hate-crime in the context of a diverse community.
At the opening reception March 15, outstanding works of art were recognized, with awards presented by Iona Campagnolo, patron of the CV Justice Centre. The jury comprised arts council appointee, artist Heather Aton; CVAG’s appointee artist Robert Moon and justice centre’s chief administrator Bruce Curtis.
• Madeleine Wood was presented with the Award for Artistic Merit; the piece selected in this category embodies the attributes of traditional esthetics: sensitive selection of colour; graceful depiction of form; excellence in the expression of line; and creative composition.
She also received the Award for Response to Homophobia. The work chosen confronts the underlying belief of some that same-sex love is ugly and repugnant. Both awards recognize her paintings titled My Line (#20, 23, and 25).
• Marilyn Peeters was presented with the Award for Response to Racism for her painting Peace Offering. The jury selected a work that presented images of real diversity woven together and connected by understanding and respect, bound together by the deep roots of all cultures. Marilyn is a Comox Valley artist who graduated as an external student with Emily Carr University at North Island College in 2009.
• Patricia MacNeil’s serigraph print, titled Different Opinions, was selected to receive the Award for Response to Hate. In this category, the judges’ attention was drawn to a work that captured the ugliness of hate arising from the rejection of difference — in our bodies, in our faces, and in our ideas.
The judges still felt there was one work of sufficient merit for an award, but didn’t specifically fall into one of the categories. The panel established a further award dubbed the Nakeestla Award. Nakeestla is a Kwak’wala word which, generally translated, means “coming together to make things right.”
Selected for the Nakeestla Award is 5 Steps Towards Grace by artist Lisa Kirk, who discovered art in her late 20s when living on Cortes Island. Lisa studied life drawing at North Island College, establishing her teaching studio at home in the Comox Valley.
Campagnolo stated in her address that: “Engaging the arts in an examination of our thoughts and beliefs about these themes is to begin the process of challenging prejudice, power, and inequality, in the interests of enhancing compassion and human equity.
“Its aim is to bring these ideas to a broader audience — one that looks for meaning through artistic expression. It is to open the space in which artists can claim their role as spokespeople and educators for cultural tolerance.”
To further explore these issues, Saturday’s Art Talk: engage brings together a selection of exhibiting artists, including most of the award recipients, to give a short presentation about an artwork which they have submitted to this show.
Presentations will describe the artists’ process, inspiration, tell a story or describe a hope for how the work may affect, inspire or produce a response in viewers. Artists will also discuss how their piece is intended to move the viewer to deeper reflection and action.
Following the artists’ presentations, a community discussion facilitated by Curtis, will include artists, guests, and invited community members responding to themes in the work. Participating on the panel are local artists Kelly Gough, Joyce Lindemulder and Ed Varney and retired counsellor and former CV Justice Centre president Andy Stringfellow.
CVAG is in downtown Courtenay at 580 Duncan Ave. This new show runs through April 20. For details, visit comoxvalleyartgallery.com or call 250-338-6211.
— Comox Valley Art Gallery