Gibsons artist Manon Staiger is a self confessed media junkie. Her morning starts with a wake up call from radio news and her breakfast comes with a newspaper, which she reads from cover to cover.
“The news is always trying to grab your attention,” she said. “It’s become more like entertainment.”
Yet the images are powerful and, despite the media hopping from one item to another, the horrific stories of typhoons, war and disasters linger in our memories. Or do they?
“I found myself asking ‘what happened to that story?’” Staiger said. “For example, the earthquake in Haiti.”
She will be showing her photo-based paintings at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre’s Doris Crowston Gallery in Sechelt opening this week along with work from Vancouver artist Leah Weinstein who graduated from Emily Carr Institute of Art. Weinstein’s “shelterform” sculptures, inspired by tents and handcrafted textiles, are constructed from textile and metal.
Staiger’s exhibition, painted in 2012, is titled Media Landslide. It takes its inspiration from her first work in this series, a mudslide image from Pakistan. A victim’s hand and part of a head is barely visible through the rubble. What happened in Pakistan to cause this disaster? We cannot remember. The images, once so strong, are no longer vivid.
Staiger searches out the images online and crops them to pick out the key feature that catches the eye and has compositional elements. She then paints them in acrylic using monochromatic colours: black and white or sepia. The images are divided into neat blocks and they appear in a blur, as if looking through the wrong glasses, in the way that our memories blur.
One painting shows the sinking of the Costa Concordia that took place last year in the Mediterranean. The ship is on a true-to-life horrendous tilt making it almost unrecognizable as a ship, but this strange perspective is taken from the news photos.
In another painting, the clouds of gas and dirt from an explosion in Syria may seem benign, almost like puffy flowers in bloom, except for the wreckage of a vehicle in one corner reminding us that they are the product of war.
Staiger’s background as an artist includes ceramics, sculpture and printmaking. As a former curator of the Campbell River Public Art Gallery and a graduate of a Fine Arts program, she has explored many such mediums over the years.
The Space we Share by Weinstein and Media Landslide by Staiger will be shown at until March 31. Gallery hours are Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. and Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.