Casa ex­hibit evokes tran­quil­ity, thought­ful­ness

Lethbridge Herald - - HOMETOWNNEWS - 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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