Last night was the opening for my first solo exhibition, "A BC Bestiary" at the Blackberry Gallery in the Port Moody Arts Centre. There were a total of four shows opening that evening, and thank goodness, because the turnout for Kwi Am Choi's retrospective was significant. If they had relied solely on my contribution of followers, the attendance would have been pretty slender.
That said, it was a fantastic evening. I'm thrilled with the final product: the show hangs very well, the work has a unified theme & feel, and it just looks great.
Here is proof that I was at the show, but unfortunately, it's not the world's best photo, and it's the only one I got!!
It quickly became crowded in there once guests started to arrive, and I was so busy talking about my work & methodology, that I didn't have the presence of mind to take any further photos of people actually looking at anything!! Ah, well, maybe next time!
I received many extremely positive comments, and quite a few people told me that I should publish the project as a book. That was certainly my intention early on, but I got so sick of the whole thing by the end of the year of working on it, that I didn't want to think about it at all any more. I am now more positively inclined towards the collection, so I might yet look into how to get it published in the near-ish future. I also spoke with a number of people who were interested in learning relief printmaking, and were intrigued that my method does not require a press. Perhaps some new students? We shall see!
Anyway, for those who might be interested, here's the "artist statement" from the show:
I am from a family of biologists and artists, so I honestly come by my fascination with nature, and my desire to transform that feeling onto paper. Strongly influenced by my grandmother's art and my parent's knowledge and love of our natural world, I could hardly escape. I studied the world through the eyes of the scientific method and now my work is directed by the methodology of printmaking. I love the challenge of interpreting an image or an idea into a print, building the process in my mind, working within the constraints of the media, exploring ways to expand beyond them, and realizing the final outcome on paper. Printmaking requires development of precise technical skill and craftsmanship, yet provides an expressive medium for creative dialogue.
Interpretations of the alphabet have always intrigued me. When I was very young, my father returned from one of his trips to the Arctic with an Inuit alphabet poster. That was my first introduction to different way of looking at the alphabet – an alphabet which was in a different language, representing creatures and items that were not common in my daily life. Another source of early inspiration was A Collection of Thoughts and Pictures Based on the Alphabet by Mike Yazzolino, a very esoteric approach to this most basic listing of the building blocks of our language. One of my favourites, and perhaps one of the most exquisitely illustrated and presented children's alphabets, is Wallace Edward's Alphabeasts - required bookshelf content for all.
An alphabet of BC's familiar and not-so-familiar denizens seems a perfect way to combine my knowledge in science, my interest in nature and my skills as an artist. By working in miniature, I aim to encourage the viewer to take a step forward and investigate further, rather than standing aloof and uninvolved. The bestiary ranges from the common to the bizarre, but each member has a job in the mosaic of our landscape. The visual alphabet of the printed image provides a glimpse into our natural heritage.