Friday, February 23, 2018

Exhibit showcases Camosun artist-in-residence alumni

July 11, 2017 by Mason Hendricks, web editor

A little air is a new visual arts exhibit up at Camosun College’s Lansdowne campus, and it has a twist: it’s made up of older works from seven of Camosun’s artist-in-residence alumni. The works on display may vary in concept and design, but they are consistently thought-provoking and creative.

“I was invited to apply for the residency for the 2014 session,” says artist Jess Willa Wheaton. “The work that’s in the exhibit is a work that I made there at Camosun and left as a gift to the school, so that’s how that came to be in the show. It’s a large oil painting on canvas. I work combining very different images, and I do that in part to create a more complicated sense of space in my work. I did it in oil paintings and also in collages that are completely physical, all with found printed material. Scale is a big subject in my work; with the collages I can’t change the scale of anything, because I find it, but with the paintings I can.”

A sampling of some of the works on display in A little air, which is up at Camosun’s Lansdowne campus until September 13 (photo by Greg Pratt/Nexus).

Wheaton completed her undergrad degree in California and then received her master’s degree in fine arts while in New York, where she currently lives. She says her work in A little air is “overtly about the scale shift” and was created alongside other paintings using image references and silhouettes of leaves and trees, which “are represented by a photograph that I found—and then there is this foregrounded, kind of luminous grey element that emulates a different photogram that I found,” she says.

“So it’s a big difference,” she continues. “Contemporary photo in the back, and a very early type of photography in front, and then sort of fused together in a painting, so that the frontal element feels quite close to the surface but there is a ton of space in the background of the painting.”

Art has been a long-time love of Wheaton’s. She says she was “one of those kids that were manically drawing” whenever she could.

“But it wasn’t actually until I moved to Canada to attend Camosun when I was 20 that I officially began studying art,” she says.

Many of the artists featured in the show feel a strong connection to the residency and to Camosun’s Visual Arts department, and it’s interesting to see how the artists have honed their skills, tweaked their techniques, and brought their visions to life.

“I’ve been officially making work for over a decade,” says Wheaton. “All of it sort of relates to that work in the show. I’ve just continuously evolved, in truth, over time. This is my career; I’m in the studio as much as possible. Last year I had a temporary post teaching art in university. I have different odd jobs that I take on to get by, but art is definitely the main event; or, I should say, work in the studio is the main event. I always have more that I am thinking about and desiring to work on than there are hours in the day; I’m just thinking about my work all the time.”

A little air
Until Friday, September 13
Young Building, lower floor
Lansdowne campus

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