Protest and concern mark new art exhibition

Gibsons Public Art Gallery

“What are we doing to the planet, and what are we doing to bring it back?”

That’s one of Vancouver photographer and writer Penny Parry’s takes when asked about the theme of the show, Rabble&Rubble?, that’s just opened at Gibsons Public Art Gallery.

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“This is really about what we value and what we don’t value; what we discard so easily, and whether we’re aware of what that’s doing to us,” Parry added in her remarks at the show’s April 13 opening reception. “If we discard items, maybe we’re discarding people as well.”

The show is displaying work from Parry and four other Vancouver artists: photographer Kathy Kinakin; painters Danaca Ackerson and Deanna Fogstrom; and sculptor/performance artist Jocelyne Robinson.

Ackerson, who was a maternity nurse for years before earning an arts degree in mid-life from Emily Carr University, is exhibiting part of her series on protest, with many works depicting placard-carrying marchers. “I wanted to inspire people to see community action as community-building, as it can make a difference and be very fun,” Ackerson said.

Fogstrom is concerned that, in our consumption of land and products and in what we do with them, “there is this carelessness and this great leap of faith that things will be taken care of.” One of her works at the show is a 12-piece, oil-on-wood called The Highrise That Ate Vancouver. “I’m fascinated by the all distortions in the windows and the glass of Vancouver, and I look for something meaningful in that,” she said of the painting.

Kinakin takes photos of forests and landscapes with a vintage, large-format wooden camera using eight-by-ten-inch glass negatives, “a process that relates to the time period when the surveyors first photographed British Columbia,” she said. As you’d expect, the process renders images in super-high resolution. “People might think Stanley Park is a much more pristine old-growth park than it actually is. I want to call attention to those details,” Kinakin said.

Parry takes photographs, too, although in this show, on a much smaller scale than Kinakin, and printed with pigmented ink, which can lend a softer, more tactile quality to an image. In a unique mixed-media presentation, Parry has mounted a series of framed and matted photos, each with an accompanying poem that adds another and often unexpected dimension to the picture.

The show’s most conceptually challenging works are by Robinson – a pair of three-dimensional objects that are life-sized, mannequin-like ball-gown frames decorated with woven surveyor’s tape. It’s a collision of materials and ideas she calls Constructing Addresses. The work “draws on the societal tensions between nature and humankind,” she said. “The materials that I employ emphasize the tensions that strive to co-exist within a world of human constructions.”

Robinson’s personal story is a work of art in itself, and much more – a testament to sheer perseverance and mother-love. A member of the Algonquin First Nation from Quebec, Robinson raised seven children as a single mother in East Vancouver. All of her kids finished high school and went on to post-secondary education. Two of them earned law degrees, the second graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2016, on the same day Robinson received her PhD in education.

Rabble&Rubble? is on at the gallery until May 5.

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