Chilliwack conceptual mixed-media artist Krista Kilvert stands by ‘Any Town, Anywhere, Any Time.’ It is one of nine pieces in her exhibition about domestic violence called Behind Closed Doors. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Chilliwack conceptual mixed-media artist Krista Kilvert stands by ‘Any Town, Anywhere, Any Time.’ It is one of nine pieces in her exhibition about domestic violence called Behind Closed Doors. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Powerful and dark exhibition by Chilliwack artist shines light on domestic violence

Krista Kilvert’s solo show Behind Closed Doors is on display at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Every nine seconds a beep is heard from inside the art gallery at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre and, simultaneously, a small paper house glows red.

Every nine seconds a woman is abused or beaten by her partner in the United States.

The red light goes out and the little paper house is just one of 264 unlit houses standing together to represent a community. The paper neighbourhood makes up one of nine art pieces on display in Krista Kilvert’s solo exhibition about domestic violence called Behind Closed Doors.

‘Any Town, Anywhere, Any Time’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

‘Any Town, Anywhere, Any Time’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

“This is about creating awareness,” the conceptual mixed-media artist said, standing over the hundreds of houses. “Because a lot of this is happening behind closed doors, it’s easy to turn a blind eye. If these things happened on the street, it would be treated very differently.”

Another beep is heard and a different house glows red. Text on the walls beside the paper houses reads “every nine seconds” in different languages.

“Violence against women exists on every continent, in every country, every culture and within all ethnicities,” Kilvert said. “It affects women regardless of their socio-economic status, education, sexual orientation, age or health. It can take place in any town, anywhere, at any time and happen to anyone.”

Chilliwack conceptual mixed-media artist Krista Kilvert is reflected in her piece ‘Truths’. It is one of nine pieces in her exhibition about domestic violence called Behind Closed Doors. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Chilliwack conceptual mixed-media artist Krista Kilvert is reflected in her piece ‘Truths’. It is one of nine pieces in her exhibition about domestic violence called Behind Closed Doors. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Behind Closed Doors opened on Oct. 23 and runs until Nov. 27 in the O’Connor Group Art Gallery at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. Originally, it was supposed to open in April 2020, but it was postponed due to the pandemic.

Over the last year and a half, Kilvert had time to reflect on the pieces she had already created and decided to add three new ones.

‘Hostage’ is a refurbished Victorian style dollhouse which she worked on for six months.

“It’s like your fairytale dollhouse from the exterior,” she said.

But look more closely and you’ll see clues on the outside that there might be issues going on inside – empty alcohol bottles are piled up in a bin outside the house. Walk around to the back of the dollhouse and the walls, floor and ceilings have been covered in camouflage.

“I tried to create the home setting but it’s not your typical home setting,” Kilvert said. “This does not necessarily represent just COVID. This type of environment existed pre-COVID but now it’s just that much worse… because now you’re a prisoner.”

‘Hostage’ was funded thanks to a grant from BC Arts Council.

‘Hostage’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

‘Hostage’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

‘Hostage’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

‘Hostage’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

Her piece ‘4,000 and Counting’ was also created during COVID and it honours Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women. It’s a dark, shimmery wall piece made up of 4,000 small squares of plastic that glisten and move in the ambient air. ‘MMIWG’ is printed in the centre of it.

‘Truths’ is a wall of circular mirrors with local, national and global domestic violence statistics etched on them.

“It was very integral that I use mirrors because the viewer is reflected into the piece. It is a statement that this is surrounding us – it’s part of our lives but it’s also not part of our lives.”

‘Truths’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

‘Truths’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

Another piece in the exhibition is called ‘Consequence’ where 13 white picture frames are hung on two red walls and are meant to look like a wall in one’s home with family portraits. But instead of photos inside the frames, each one holds a hand-written message from women in the California Institution for Women, having been incarcerated for killing their intimate partners as a consequence of domestic violence.

“These are from 30 years ago (but) if you read them they are relevant today… sadly, it’s timeless what they’re saying here.”

‘Consequence’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

‘Consequence’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

One of 13 hand-written messages from 1991, penned by women in the California Institution for Women, having been incarcerated for killing their intimate partners as a consequence of domestic violence. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

One of 13 hand-written messages from 1991, penned by women in the California Institution for Women, having been incarcerated for killing their intimate partners as a consequence of domestic violence. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

During the time the show has been open to the public, Kilvert has already received a lot of feedback. Visitors are calling her work “powerful,” she said.

“I know that some people have found it difficult to take the whole exhibition in all at once. They say ‘I’ve got to come back. It’s a lot of information here,’” she said. “It’s a very emotional topic.”

But conversations are starting, which is the goal of Behind Closed Doors.

“The whole point in this exhibition is trying to use the art gallery and this environment as a platform for dialogue. A platform to stimulate people to think about the various issues but in a different way than just reading it in the news or in text somewhere online.”

‘Femail’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ What appears to be a wig is actually copper telecom wire woven into a circuit board. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

‘Femail’ by Krista Kilvert on display in her exhibition about domestic violence called ‘Behind Closed Doors.’ What appears to be a wig is actually copper telecom wire woven into a circuit board. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack)

She’s had a lot of positive feedback so far, and instead of a guest book, visitors have been leaving comments via sticky notes on one of the doors to the gallery. People have opened up to her about the personal impact that domestic violence has had on them.

“I had somebody who said, ‘Wow, it’s beautifully presented but it’s so very dark.’ And I said ‘I know, but I’m trying to shine a light on it.’”

Behind Closed Doors is at the Chilliwack Cultural art gallery until Nov. 27. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. Admission is free.

Chilliwack conceptual mixed-media artist Krista Kilvert is reflected in her piece ‘Truths’. It is one of nine pieces in her exhibition about domestic violence called Behind Closed Doors. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Chilliwack conceptual mixed-media artist Krista Kilvert is reflected in her piece ‘Truths’. It is one of nine pieces in her exhibition about domestic violence called Behind Closed Doors. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)


 

@PhotoJennalism
jenna.hauck@theprogress.com

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