The work of three talented Visual Arts alumni from Vancouver Island University will be showcased at the downtown Nanaimo Art Gallery until May 22.
The exhibit, called When Nature Called, features the work of graduates Tani Hamagishi-Allen, Virginia Kwok and Lara Scarr.
Hamagishi-Allen, a recent VIU graduate in Visual Arts and Business, began creating her Porcelain Dolls series in 2008 and has since exhibited the work in Vancouver, Victoria and throughout mid-Vancouver Island. This body of work compositionally uses both collage and illustrative elements. The repetition of such addresses the awareness of an obsessive tendency she finds within herself: admiration for simplicity.
This exhibit is a culmination of pieces from the Porcelain Doll series, as well as those that have been created since. Graduate Virginia Kwok’s work is called the Swan Song series. “My experience of living in two different countries gave me the opportunity to discover how space is utilized for objects and different living values,” says Kwok.
“With the influences from Edward Burtynsky’s photography, I started to become aware of the environmental issues that are surrounding us. These observations become relevant to my practice. Aside from my focus on the visual information, I am also bringing cultural and social issues into the content of my artworks. This involves a deeper level of research and greater understanding of the related subject matter.”
Swan Song series was focused on the idea of the contemporary society and living values in relation to various environments. Kwok combines wild animals and contemporary metropolitan interior space to create a humorous juxtaposition, and also comment on contemporary fears. The out of the ordinary compositions suggests that if current situations continue, the possible future outcome could be an eventual disappearance of the human population.
Swan Song Series is intended to encourage a dialogue amongst the public, and most importantly, to offer people a chance to question about our uncertain status as a species and to rethink human relationships with the natural habitat.
Lara Scarr, a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in visual art and psychology, is currently working on the Thread & Paint Revolution series, an exploration of complimentary and contrasting media. It draws attention to the contradicting effect of soothing traditional textiles, cut forms, and unsettling figurative images, reticulated within a labyrinth of thread and paint.
“This series is a playful exploration of media, specifically media that tends to be classically stereotyped and therefore confined within creative possibility and audience type,” she says. “I am attempting to break those boundaries and illustrate the potential deviant nature of fabric art; it can be edgy and strange, even alarming. And now I'm watching it carve and anomalous pathway into the art world.”
The exhibit can be viewed at the downtown gallery at 150 Commercial Street until May 22.