Through a Dark Wood

Jenifer Davidson has been creating art for as long as she can remember. It’s not only an enjoyable hobby, but something that has seriously benefitted her mental health as well, even helping her move through her grieving process when her father passed away a few years ago.

“I could make stuff all day, everyday, until I turn to dust and still never get to all the media I’d like to work in,” the artist told What’s Up Yukon. “My life goal, by the way, is to make all the stuff, all the time.”

Davidson’s newest artistic endeavour is called Through a Dark Wood, an art show running at the FREE SPACE gallery in Northern Front Studio until October 29. The works on display as part of the show were made with materials from all over the Yukon. Foraged materials such as Bennet Lake driftwood, Yukon River and Dezadeash gravel and sand and rocks from Keno area and Ethel Lake have all found their way into Davidson’s artwork. One of the show’s highlights is “The Forest King” an installation piece approximately 10 by six feet in size. 

For Davidson, the creation of the art and the setup of the show was an enjoyable process, especially thanks to a friend who stepped in to help out. With such large pieces, there can be a lot of special logistics to figure out, and Davidson had to be conscious of time when doing so.

 “It is a good thing that there are deadlines in a set up like this – I could have tweaked and fluffed and adjusted for days,” she said. “It was fun to play with hanging “The Forest King”, the floating dandelion bits and the spider webs, as well as the lights in the pieces and on them.”

This is not Davidson’s first time at the helm of an art show, but she said she thinks having put together art shows in the past and the lessons she has learned along the way alleviated a lot of the stress and anxiety she might have felt working to make Through a Dark Wood happen. Davidson is also grateful to be part of the Yukon’s vibrant and accepting arts community, and she said the very few barriers to entering the community allow for new perspectives to be showcased. 

“Besides the many benefits that arts bring to a community, with mental health, beauty, community cohesion and safer spaces, embracing our authentic and vulnerable selves encourages or inspires others to have courage,” she said. 

In addition to being an artist, Davidson juggles employment, studies and motherhood. She used to save creating art for her downtime and only do it once all her chores have been completed, but as her art helped her in her process of grieving her father, she realized she needed to make it more of a priority because of the benefits it brought her. 

“As I moved through grief, I made more space in my life for creating, and set up my dedicated studio,” she said, later adding “a lot of my work involves multi-stage processes.  So, there is a lot of “pop into the shop and clear coat” then tend to family, house or employment needs. I think it works well for me because of I have a constant flow of ideas. Many pieces in various stages and a never-ending to-do list allow me to bounce back and forth between art and life. I also combine outdoor adventures with gathering and foraging materials with help from my family.”

“This show was a complete trip through my own imagination,” said Davidson. “Embracing my vulnerability and fear, I drew from my authentic self, embraced my fears and vulnerability and just put it out there. I am so in love with many of the pieces; they make me laugh, clap, and bounce about.”

Through a Dark Wood can be seen in the FREE SPACE gallery at Northern Front Studio, located at 110-2237 2nd Avenue in Whitehorse. The show is on display until October 29, with opening hours Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. 

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