Lethbridge Herald

Casa exhibit evokes tranquilit­y, thoughtful­ness

- J.W. Schnarr LETHBRIDGE HERALD Follow @JW SchnarrHer­ald on Twitter

The theme of place and how it shapes who we are is explored in a new exhibit by Edmonton artist Kelsey Stephenson at The Gallery at Casa.

“Divining” is an exhibit which consists of nearly 400 small, square paintings which have been pieced together to create a larger overall work wrapping around four walls in the gallery.

Starting with digital images, Stephenson then used an ink process involving acrylic ink and a lot of water to create what looks like an aerial landscape view, or a topographi­cal map. There is also an audio element to the installati­on with music intended to enhance the experience.

“It could also look like a solar system or something, too,” Stephenson said.

The small squares that make up the larger images give the appearance of grid co-ordinates a person might see on a map. But the squares serve a second purpose. The images were made on a Japanese Washi paper called Kitakata. Washi paper looks very fragile, but is quite strong and often used in print-making.

“If you have it displayed like this, with minimal things to keep it in place, there is a lot more movement,” said Stephenson. “If you move close to the installati­on, it actually starts to move and breathe as you walk by it.”

The effect adds life and impermanen­ce to the installati­on.

“It’s always moving and changing,” said Stephenson.”

The paintings were done in sections and pieced together. In some places, there is a digital element visible under the ink. Other areas have a silkscreen varnish, adding a sheen that is more visible in the darker areas. The installati­on is intended to evoke tranquilit­y and thoughtful­ness, and for viewers to be able to contemplat­e the space they exist in and how it has changed them.

“Divining” took about eight months to complete. At the time, Stephenson was living in the U.S. and was exploring ideas around how identity is shaped by place.

“When I was in Tennessee, there were a lot of difference­s in how we see the world sometimes, between people in the program with me and myself,” she said. “It got me thinking on how much of an impact it had coming from the area of the world I was from and then seeing it with new eyes after I had been away for three years.”

“Divining” runs until April 15, with an opening night event tonight.

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