Discovering your Sense of Place

According to artist Iaian Baxter&, a sense of place can be found in a person who is sensitive to many places, who is a person of the world.

“For many of us artists, our studios are our sense of place, somewhere that grounds us in the here and now,” he tells the audience at the opening of Sense of Place. Photos also help catalogue the time and place that help define a location, according to Baxter&.

A Sense of Place is a 36-piece print art show collective, and comes paired with a forum discussion on “sense of place” by Canadian literary heavyweight Alastair McLeod, international artist Iaian Baxter& and writer Nino Ricci.

Whitehorse audiences reflect very strongly on their “place”, compared with, say, Toronto audiences, remarks Windsor Printmaker’s Forum president Patricia Coates. “I’ve found the audience response to our forum discussion quite involved and strongly identified with, compared with when we held it in bigger cities.

“The topic is deeper here,” she says.

Whitehorse and Canadian audiences often echo a sense of place within nature. It becomes all-consuming, and as Alastair McLeod says, “You’re aware because every Canadian knows winter, and knows it well.”

And the print show itself? It is a showcase to the diversity of printmaking, with pieces done with silkscreening, lithographs, hydrographs, woodcuts, digital print, etching and relief reduction. It’s a tribute to the skill of Canadian and American artists, who answered Coates’ call for contributions to the work.

“We received over 200 entries, from artists all over Canada and the U.S.,” says Coates. The Windsor Printmaker’s Forum is on the cusp of the U.S./Canadian border, and hence invited American artists to be involved.

The strength of “place” within Canada and the U.S. is echoed in the print works. A playground swing is screened onto a yellow T-shirt, evoking a sense of childhood play and a “place” of sweet security. A great bull lithograph evokes a feeling of masculinity, of Spanish courage and places us in the arena of the great animal.

The show goes on the road, heading for the University of Western Ontario next.

Coates mentions that travelling throughout Canada has opened her eyes to the richness of Canadian culture. “As a Canadian, you assume certain things, or have a limited perspective. Doing this show and coming up to the Yukon, you see how vast and great our country really is,” she says.

The forum on a sense of place is also “taking on a life of its own,” Coates adds.

“Alastair and Nino really wanted to come to the Yukon, and so we sought out a way to be here. We’re interested in Canada, the far-reaching aspects of it, the exotic. It’s a way to experience the entire country, the Far East, as far West and as far North as we can go,” she adds.

She anticipates further travelling with A Sense of Place, to all corners of Canada.

A Sense of Place is at the Yukon Arts Centre and will run until Oct. 29

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