On Thursday, November 16, at 6:30 p.m., artists and art enthusiasts from across the Fraser Valley gathered at the Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford for the opening reception of Art on Demand 3.4, an exhibition created by members of the Reach’s Emerge program.
The exhibition was curated by UFV visual arts student, and president of the Visual Arts Student Association (VASA), Katherine Searle, whom we had a chance to interview.
When asked if it was difficult to choose from the long list of applicants, Searle stated, “At first, yes, when listing all of the themes from the works, looking for common threads. I made lists under a few different themes, before deciding on childhood.” Searle was drawn to two artists in particular, as she thought their work would relate to one another. “It was after choosing childhood as my overall theme that I felt strongly that the works of Jessica Peatman and Kristin Voth would work well together. Their work relates well together because of the use of the strong emotions felt by the figures in each of their series.”
Langley artist Jessica Peatman graduated from UFV with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in June of 2017. She continues to study at UFV through directed studies in printmaking, to sharpen her skills in that medium. Peatman’s work represents feeling of loneliness, fear, and uncertainty associated with memories of childhood. Her pieces in this exhibition are part of her series titled “Reconstructed Recollections,” a collection of photo-etched prints. These prints contain imagery comparable to children’s books illustrations, containing cartoonish figures and simple structures.
Vancouver-based artist Kristin Voth is a mixed media artist who has roots in Abbotsford. Her work often features the small things commonly overlooked by many. Themes she addresses include recollection, alienation, and promise. Her paintings in this exhibition are based on pictures taken from her childhood. She uses pastel colours and greys to expertly resemble the likeness of old photographs, which can be interpreted as a substitute for memories. The children in her imagery engage in fun activities such as bike riding, or birthday parties, however, their facial expressions are devoid of all emotion, which evokes an uncomfortable sense of dissonance.
Both artists portray aspects of childhood in their work that are inspired by past experiences easily forgotten by adults. Together, the artists effectively compel their audience to recollect the hardships of childhood in a way that elicits discomfort and uneasiness.
Searle, Peatman, and Voth are all involved in the Reach’s Emerge program. The goal of the Emerge program is to provide training and mentorship to aspiring young professionals with an interest in the arts. A list of opportunities are available to individuals who choose to participate in the Emerge program, including the opportunity to curate group exhibitions, and the ability to show work alongside professional artists. The program believes in the importance of hands-on experience, and offers both paid and volunteer positions for aspiring individuals looking to enter the fine arts industry. A membership fee of $25 is required when signing up for the program, which includes a full year of the aforementioned benefits.
For students who may be interested in undertaking projects such as the ones available to young people through the Emerge program, Searle advises that, “While in school, take advantage of every opportunity you can, even if you feel you have a lot on your plate. If you want something bad enough, you will be able to find the time.”
Art on Demand 3.4 will be on display at the Reach Gallery Museum until December 31, 2017.