Copper Moon Gallery’s latest show Wood Grain and Metal Form is a refreshing and personal look at the recent work of two new Yukon artists.

Candice Ball is a prolific creator of jewellery and small works in metal.

A jeweller by training, she appreciates the metal techniques that originated centuries ago, which are still used today.

At the same time, new techniques in metal are being forged every day. Ball finds this exciting and inspiring.

“There are so many tools and techniques in working with metal so you’re always learning,” she says.

One of her favourite metals to work with is titanium. It is a challenging metal, and its limitations inspire her.

“It’s literally the hardest metal, so it’s also hard to work with. If you’re sanding it or filing it, titanium can wear out your files.”

One technique Ball particularly likes is to anodize titanium. By passing an electrical current through the metal, a coloured coating is created on the surface of the metal. The colour varies depending on the strength of the current, but is unpredictable.

Ball’s exhibit features several unique pieces of jewellery. They are not mere accessories; Ball likes the people who wear them to have a connection to the piece, and to recognize it as wearable art.

For this reason, she strives to create original, one-of-a-kind pieces, rather than reproducing multiples through casting.

The strength of the exhibit lies in her series of small metal sculptures. Most are no more than a few inches in size, but are detailed, textured compositions.

“Sometimes people are looking at the world with their eyes half open. I try to get people to focus on this one small thing for a little while,” she explains.

Ball has recently launched her online store and website. You can see more of her work at www.dilcet.com.

Blake Lepine is a member of the Carcross Tagish First Nations whose exhibit at Copper Moon is his first professional show. His work consists primarily of plank carvings and paintings in the traditional Northwest Coast style.

His works are modest and thoughtful, ranging from themes that are personal to environmental. Each is accompanied by a short story about how that piece came to be. They are amusing descriptions that complement the work.

One plank carving entitled “Fireplace Blues” was conceived while Lepine was sitting in a broken down truck waiting for a tow truck by the side of the road at a temperature of minus 43.

Another carving, “Lego Blocks” describes his childhood love of Lego, and how the basic lines of the Tlingit form are reminiscent of those Lego lines that he grew up with.

Lepine is an artist that takes his job seriously without taking himself too seriously. Giving a little bit of himself in this way is all part of sharing art.

“People are more engaged in art when they know the story behind it,” he explains. “We don’t create art out of nowhere. There’s always some inspiration.”

And for Lepine, making art is a way is a way of rebuilding his culture.

“Art is a vehicle for love,” he said. “It’s a way of healing, especially for First Nation people.”

Lepine grew up in Whitehorse and spent most summers with his grandparents living a traditional life.

Lepine explains, “I was really lucky to have had strong role models in my parents and my grandparents, who were like fill-in parents.”

Although he had been taught about his culture all his life, it was when he became a dancer with the Dakh Ka Kwaan Dancers that he began immersing himself in his culture.

Now, as an artist, he would like to be a role model himself. After two years in the Sundog Carving Program, he is now instructing carvers in the schools, and is active with Northern Cultural Expressions, the successor to the Sundog program.

For his next show, Lepine would like to focus on furniture and other functional objects.

“We need to bring art back into our daily lives – bowls, furniture, cookware, regular household items.”

Surrounding ourselves with art and beauty helps us view the world differently.

More art. We can all live with that.

Glenda Koh is an art aficionado and writer who lives in Whitehorse