I may not be the most consistent blogger, but I break my 2 years of blogging silence with an exciting announcement that I have an art show opening this month in my hometown of Kitchener Waterloo, Ontario.
This is my first show outside of BC and it will run from January 15th to April 21st 2019 with the opening reception taking place on Saturday January 19th, 7-9pm. The evening will feature music from the amazing Paige Warner, a dear friend of mine and incredibly talented musician.
The series is titled Mimesis and consists of digital art prints and accompanying haikus that explore the imitation of shapes in the natural and synthetic environments in which we live. In a whimsical and quirky way these prints create interesting and even humorous juxtapositions of items including: whales and oven-mitts, mushrooms and umbrellas, basketballs and peaches, snails and lollipops, and so forth.
Though the images are playful in appearance, the series has a deeper side as the prints call the viewer to pay attention to the spaces we live in and the ways we overtake the environment with our synthetic imitations. In the words of artist and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy, “we often forget that we are nature…” so let us be inventive in our stewardship and creative in our coexistence with all living things.
“I should like, when I am through with this body and my spirit released, to float up those wonderful mountain passes and ravines and feed on silence and wonder – no fear, no bodily discomfort, just space and silence.” –Emily Carr (Hundreds and Thousands)
I received a well-loved copy of the book Hundreds and Thousands; The Journals of Emily Carr for Christmas and have been very inspired by Carr’s deep thoughts and connections to nature. So inspired in fact, that I went for a walk the other day down the Salmon Arm wharf in -17C weather, my hands clad in homemade mittens, gripping the tattered book so that I could read her words in the proper setting - surrounded by mountains and water. The cold snap had driven all other inhabitants away from this usually popular spot and I was completely alone. The sun was beginning to set making the mountains glow a beautiful pink. Just as I pulled out my phone and snapped a few pictures the screen went black as the battery died. Gone were all distractions, it was just me, the mountains, and the musings of Emily Carr replaying in my head and frozen in my hand.
The lake had iced over and as I stood at the end of the wharf I was initially struck by the utter silence of it all. Everything was still, quiet, and calm. The more I listened, however, I began to hear the creaking and groaning of the ice as it rubbed against the sturdy beams of the wharf. It occurred to me that underneath the thick ice the lake was moving and the water was filled with all sorts of activity and life. My spirit seemed to groan along with the ice at the discomfort of stillness yet the anticipation of what is bubbling under the surface.
I am excited for 2017 and all that is to come in the New Year even though at the moment I feel as though my life has come to a bit of a standstill. Opportunities seem to be waiting under the surface, yet I do not feel quite ready for those warm winds of change to come and release them. As I left the frozen wharf, snow crunching under my feet, I began to quietly sing one of my favourite Sam Cooke songs and his timeless lyrics seemed to match the mood of the ice splintering behind me “it’s been a long, a long time coming but I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.”
If you have ever sat down for tea with me, you may have noticed me remove the tags from the tea bags and discretely slip them into my pocket. I can’t remember when exactly this fascination with tea tags started but over the past few years I have been collecting these small bits of coloured paper in hopeful anticipation of what I would eventually create with them.
I am excited to announce that the wait is over and I have begun a body of work that will be on display and for sale at the Lighthouse Voyage Art Event in Vancouver on October 22nd at the Lost + Found Cafe. Lighthouse Voyage (LV) is a nonprofit organization, started by a dear friend of mine, that uses art as a platform for creating awareness and raising funds to aid in the rescuing of women and children from sex trafficking in India. I am a board member and artist for LV and it has been one of the most eye-opening and rewarding experiences to see how art truly can make a difference.
Through my involvement with LV, I began to learn more about the various issues that contribute to the sex trade industry in India and was shocked to learn that tea plays an important role. Due to low wages on plantations, families often cannot afford to keep their children and many are sold to traffickers and kept as slaves who are abused and raped. I was very moved after reading Elaina Kujar’s story that was published in The Guardian and I have attached a link to it below. In the article Elaina explains how her trafficker promised her a life of excitement and glamour, but instead she was “kept as a prisoner, unable to leave the house or contact her family”. The article states that “According to India’s National Crime Record Bureau, a child goes missing in India every eight minutes, and more than a third are never found.”
Before I began this art piece, I had never considered that tea had the power to influence so many lives. My goal for this series is that it would be a wake-up call: that we would not just accept the status quo of the way things are but would approach current issues with a critical, educated, and engaged mind. In the same way Elaina was lured by her trafficker’s false promises, all too often we are tricked by false advertising and do not consider the repercussions of our actions.
In the words of Mother Teresa:
“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
Emerge is a program at The Reach Gallery Museum for up and coming artists, age 16-30, that provides opportunities to submit artwork for exhibitions and to gain relevant experience in the visual arts. I have been a member of Emerge for the past two years and am excited to announce that I will be showing in their Annual Exhibition opening this November.
To learn more about the Emerge program follow this link: http://www.thereach.ca/emerge
Recently I had the opportunity to do an Artist Portrait with Emerge and responded to the following question:
Q: “What sort of research do you do?”
A: “That is an interesting question because typically we associate the term “research” with a strictly academic context in mind, but I believe research happens in our lives on a daily basis whether we are conscious of it or not. One dictionary definition of research addresses it as “a systematic investigation or study to reach new conclusions.” With this in mind, even the most mundane tasks can become research if we perform them fully engaged and open to reaching new conclusions. In my personal art practice I like to begin my research by taking everyday experiences or objects that spark an interest in me and further investigate from there.
Research can take on many forms and once I have found a subject matter that has captured my imagination I typically begin by finding companion artists to study or other writers with similar interests in order to expand my knowledge of that particular field. For example, one of my current fascinations are the small paper tags at the end of tea bags. This interest developed from my daily ritual of making tea and I have now collected several jars filled with tea tags of all shapes, sizes, and colours. I recently began my next phase of research which includes the study of other artists who use tea in their art as well as current issues and possible connotations surrounding tea and its production. The next stage will be the development of a concept and the actual execution of an art piece with the tea bag tags, so stay tuned and visit my website for updates.
ABOUT DARBY: Darby Arens recently completed her Bachelor of Art Honours degree in Art and Design from Trinity Western University and is currently working as a graphic designer in Fort Langley, BC. Through her art practice Arens is always seeking methods and themes that push boundaries of conventionality in a quirky, whimsical, and engaging way.
This has been a fabulously busy time of year for art shows as I have participated in three in the last month. One that comes to a close tonight is Field Guide to Travelling Bridges that consists of a collaborative process piece at the Fort Gallery.
The central theme of Field Guide to Travelling Bridges is the person as traveller mapping out an illustrative tale of imagined worlds. Our graduating art class as well as faculty and various alumni were invited to draw on the walls of the Fort Gallery. Together we brainstormed an artist statement with the goal creating a show that provided a visual guide through which collaboration and connection could take place.
After our class created the initial drawings in the gallery including a large vine-like structure, abstracted landscapes, bridges, gargoyles, passport stamps, and figures, we opened the space to the public to also draw on the walls and respond to the marks of others while also bringing their own stories.
We were drawn to the imagery of bridges because they serve as symbols of travel and a linking of places and journeys. Fellow artist Natasha De Vries found a wonderful quote from the book, “Journey Through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made out of Poetry” by Aberjhani that says:
“A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare to the jewelled vision of a life started anew.”
Through this show we were inspired by the renewing potential of journey and the coming together of people from all sorts of different pathways. While we are sad to see the show come to a close, we are grateful to all who participated in the collaboration and helped us to create a space in which pathways exist between imagined worlds, fantastical stories, and us the travellers.
For more information about the Fort Gallery visit: www.fortgallery.ca
With the Graduate Art Show fast approaching, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who participated in my installation by writing on paper hats. I will have a final hat count this weekend but I am happy to announce that I surpassed my goal of 200!
All art theory aside, this piece was a challenge to think back to childlike wonderment; a time when paper hats could be imagined as any type of outlandish headgear, capable of transporting one into a world of wonder. With my graduation less than two months away, it is easy to lose sight of imagination and belief in possibility as responsibilities of the “real world” set in. Estella Conwill Majozo says in her essay “To Search for the Good and Make it Matter” that “At best, artistic works not only inspire the viewer but give evidence of the artist’s own struggle to achieve higher recognition of what it means to be human.” My last year of university has definitely had its struggles and I have no idea what is next (so don’t ask me), but I do know I have been inspired and blessed by the answers and conversations sparked from this art piece - whether funny, sarcastic, honest, or serious, each hat has a story as unique as the person who created it and it makes me glad that we are all figuring out what it means to be human together.
The Hats of Possibility will be on display as part of the group show Retracing Social Practice at Fort Langley Centennial Museum running from from March 6 - April 30 with the opening reception on March 8th from 6:30-9pm. Hope to see you there!
Here are some of my favourite hat answers for each of the five questions:
1) When I grow up I want to:
- “Be the embodiment of adventure”
- “Be an astronaut…really.”
- “Institutionalize naps because sometimes happiness is a nap”
- “Be the king of the jungle”
- “I already am who I want to be.”
2) I wish I may, I wish I might:
- “Dream a dream of home tonight”
- “Sail the seven seas”
- “Bring this world a little light”
- “Tell everyone how much they matter”
3) Sometimes I imagine I can:
- “Knit sweaters, really fast”
- “Do a cartwheel, but I can’t so that’s too bad”
- “Eat lots of potato chips and still be healthy”
- “Fly. But then I jump off high surfaces and hurt myself #oops”
- “Teleport to France”
- “Stop time”
4) Happiness is:
- “Peanut butter pie”
- “Sitting in the woods”
- “Pizza with sausage”
- “The joy of serving”
- “One wipe poops”
- “Being content with who I am ”
5) I feel most free when:
- “I listen to Songza’s sunshine indie pop playlist”
- “I’m naked in water”
- “I have small manageable tasks to achieve”
- “I can speak in American sign language”
- “I sing in the shower”
And the most repeated answer is: “I wish I could fly” with a total of 12
Thank you to Langley Times for the article: http://www.langleytimes.com/entertainment/371425001.html