Exposing Natural Artistry

With such an abundance of established and emerging artists lurking throughout the territory, exhibitions are no longer simply confined to galleries.

For more than a year now, local art has adorned the maroon-coloured walls of Whitehorse’s Baked Café. And while most shows zero in on solo efforts, this month a group show has taken over.

The exhibit, It’s Only Natural, brings together a range of new works from nine artists.

In his statement to describe the show, curator Joseph Tisiga writes, “What may appear to be odd or considered personal taste is, in fact, only natural.” And that description marries well with the display, due to its varied offering of subject matter, technique and style.

After all, the saying goes that “art is in the eye of the beholder”, and each piece in It’s Only Natural allows for a different response from the viewer.

A large-scale cerra colla painting by Emma Barr demonstrates a slight departure from the artist’s previously exhibited works.

Adding a touch of innocence, Barr depicts a touch more realism through animal figures frolicking in a forest. She describes the piece as “experimental dialogue between animals and what they might be saying to each other.”

In keeping with an attention to nature, newcomer Yoko Furukawa encourages people to care about the natural world through her two pieces titled, Feelings.

Furukawa moved to Whitehorse last year to complete her high school studies, but has been studying and practising her art form in Japan.

Each of her watercolour works is done on Japanese calligraphy paper. Employing a meticulous attention to detail, Furukawa sketched out the form of a human eye – within its iris is the reflection of a winter forest landscape in one and a destructed spring setting filled with tree stumps in the other.

A number of artists use photography in their works: Jessica Vellenga, Omaar Reyna, Harry Kern, as well as collaborative pieces by Joe Zucchiatti and Mairi Macrae.

Vellenga’s Suki Series portrays the smooth contours of a human figure. Upon closer inspection, though, the viewer can just barely distinguish that the trio of black-and-white images are of a mannequin form.

In his photograph, The World Is A Dark Place, Reyna captures a romantic, yet shadowy image of tattered flowers caught in a breeze. The soft grain of the large-scale image gives the piece a soft and delicate aesthetic.

Kern’s panoramic photograph stitches together an evening landscape spanning from the light of a bonfire, to the vivid hues of the northern lights. And Zucchiatti and Macrae’s photo series use tree stumps embellished with charcoal-drawn faces as their focal point.

On the sculpture front, Emily Aasmen contributes two whimsical, stuffed farm animals to the exhibition, as well as small felt brooches adorned with beads.

Plus, artist Philippe LeBlond further explores his penchant for mechanics with Penolopean Study. Using steel, motors and coloured string, LeBlond created a structure that acts almost like a loom, weaving the strands as it whirls.

It’s Only Natural is not necessarily a cohesive exploration of a nature theme, as Tisiga points out. Rather, it is an opportunity for these established and emerging artists to examine a side of their work that is natural to them.

And while that does touch on the environment around us, in many regards, it’s also an occasion to see what local artists are capable of contributing to the discourse of the Yukon arts scene.

Brave New Works’ visual art exhibition, It’s Only Natural, is on display until May 6 at Baked Café.

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