A handful of Chilliwack artists have been chosen to take part in the Fraser Valley Biennale which opens at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre Art Gallery this Saturday.
Conceptual artist Krista Kilvert, textile artist Sylvie Rousel-Janssens, and painter Sandra Wiens will be joining 11 other Fraser Valley artists for the fourth annual show.
The Fraser Valley Biennale is a juried exhibition which began in 2011 as a partnership between The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford and arts councils from around the region. It celebrates the artistic accomplishments of the region, expands the public’s knowledge of the artists working locally, and nurtures the growth of the artist community in the Fraser Valley.
Kilvert has been involved in every Fraser Valley Biennale since it began.
“I have been in every biennale since its inception, and (I’m) excited that Chilliwack, and myself, was included in the multi-location exhibition agenda this year,” she says.
Her piece, Altered Landscape (above), represents a visual reconstruction of a digital image taken here in the Fraser Valley.
“The original serene landscape has been digitally manipulated to arrive at an altered image that is an abstraction of the original in an effort to conceptually express… that irreversible changes are underway eroding the serenity and environmental beauty of what once was,” she says. “This piece is a personal reaction to looking at a monolithic concrete mini-storage from my studio window which was once filled with the view of a small residence and lovely green orchard.”
Altered Landscape is a large 120-by-54-inch dye sublimation digital photograph printed on polyester fabric.
Textile artist Rousel-Janssens, who has been involved with the Fraser Valley Biennale three times, also has a large piece in the show.
Lac Sainte-Marie is two, five-and-a-half-foot-tall, semi-circle sculptures, assembled to make a circle with two openings, that measures 10 feet in diameter. People can walk right into the centre of her piece.
She calls her work “light sculptures,” as her pieces are made from transparent materials and lit from behind with either natural window light or artificial light.
Rousel-Janssens uses a soldering iron to burn thousands of tiny holes into the fabric, which is then pulled taught onto welded metal wire frames.
She uses 100 per cent recycled materials in her art. She scavenges thrift stores to find polyester shirts (which is the main material used), plus she uses the end remains of dismantled concrete stressing cable left over from her family’s pre-cast concrete business.
Lac Sainte-Marie was inspired by a childhood memory.
“The recently retrieved memory of a canoe ride with my dad on a perfectly still lake in the fall expresses total bliss. I wanted to relive the feeling of weightlessness caused by the perfect mirror image where one cannot see borders between sky, land and water,” says Rousel-Janssens.
“Lac Sainte-Marie marks a new direction in my art practice. By using a personal memory of beauty in nature, I am shifting my usual discourse on global warming. I think that we all have tools to heal ourselves and act globally.”
One of the two semi-circles features the lake, which is made up of several red fabric panels; the forest section is a series of blue panels.
For Sandra Wiens (pictured below), this will be her first time taking part in the Fraser Valley Biennale.
“I was very pleased to be a part of the show,” says the oil painter and art teacher at Sardis secondary.
She’s primarily an abstract landscape painter.
“I’m interested in how we view landscape and what that says about us. I play with the idea of structure and complexity, and interconnectedness,” says Wiens.
Her two pieces, Foothills Study 1 and Foothills Study 2, will be on display in the Biennale.
“One of them I’d had favourable reactions to it before, so that’s primarily why I chose that one,” she says about chosing which pieces to enter into the show.
“The other is a personal favourite. I like what happened with the paint, how the paint was applied, and the ease of making it. Sometimes making a painting is a bit of a labour that you come visit and revisit multiple times, and this wasn’t the case. It came together more quickly.”
Wiens has spent the past 20 years traveling extensively through Western North America and other locations, looking at, thinking about, and painting the landscape. Using this research, her current work investigates pictorial complexity, space and structure, explores issues of time and change in the environment, and contemplates how the human condition is shaped by landscape.
Her inspiration for the two pieces came from studying the foothills of Glacier National Park in the U.S.
The 2017 Biennale is curated by Beth Carruthers who is a curator, consultant, theorist, artist, and researcher. In addition to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre Art Gallery, the Fraser Valley Biennale was shown at the Kariton Gallery in Abbotsford, and will be on display later this year at the Mission Arts Council, and The Reach Gallery Museum.
The Chilliwack exhibition runs April 6 to May 13 with an opening reception Saturday, April 8 from 1-3 p.m. It is hosted by the Chilliwack Visual Artists Association.