Family: Ericaceae. (Gaultheria shallon) Salal (2019), Laara Cerman, C-print, 40"x30" in
Laara Cerman’s work explores the intersection of art, science, and history through investigating patches of wildness that survive within suburban and urban landscapes. Her explorations continue into the forests of British Columbia where she aims to teach herself how to see the diversity of the forest floor in the midst of an era where this knowledge has lost its priority but not its importance. With an ongoing practice of collecting wild plant specimens, Laara is creating a digital herbarium documenting the life cycle of plants while learning about different aspects and uses of flora growing in Canada’s most biodiverse province. Through learning about the role of plants in the ecosystem and the gifts they offer us, one becomes more conscious of the mutual connections of life and the importance of reciprocity between humans and the Earth.
Laara creates her photographs by capturing multiple digital images and then pieces them together in post-production, a skill she has mastered through working as a freelance retoucher in the commercial photography industry. Currently, she creates her digital images using a regular, flatbed, office scanner rather than a sophisticated camera. Paradoxically, the crude scannerproduces images that appear hyper-real in part due to their macro and larger-than-life clarity that emphasizes extreme detail one would normally have difficulty seeing with the naked eye. The images have an extremely narrow depth of field and low luminosity, making the subject appear to be floating in a black void of space, creating a feeling akin to a memento mori. She is currently focused on documenting the wild plants of British Columbia for one of her more recent series Codex Pacificus.
About the artwork
This body of work is a modern interpretation of the millennia-old art of botanical image making. My focus are the wild plants, both native and naturalized, of my home British Columbia.
There is rich Indigenous knowledge and practice associated with native plants, however through colonization much of this knowledge was lost to many people living here. My deepest respect and appreciation goes to the First Peoples of the Pacific Northwest for their knowledge of harvesting, preparing, and using indigenous plants since time immemorial. Rather than appropriate the knowledge given to us by the First Peoples I try to pay tribute to its richness and importance.
As medicine became available in concentrated pill form and food easily accessible through grocery stores rather than directly through forest and farm, western society’s reliance on wild plants as medicine and as food has faded and thus our knowledge of local plants has degraded.
In an age where one is increasingly bombarded with media, one is more capable of identifying different brands than being able to recognize local trees, plants and wildflowers. These hyperdetailed,macro photographs of common British Columbia wild weed and flora are my attempt to reconcile my disconnection from the natural world around me and to learn about the environment that I live in.
Codex Pacificus originally started as simple scans meant to be kept as a record for plant identification similar to herbariums of pressed plants kept by scientific institutions around the world. It has since grown into documenting the life cycle of wild plants. Time is an important aspect to the work as the images must be captured quickly (before the plants wilt) yet are slow to create, often taking months to gather the plant in the entirety of it’s life cycle.
I find these plants in unrecognized and under utilized spaces and I return throughout theyear. These spaces become lush with diverse flora which are great habitats for bees, birds, and butterflies. Frequently these areas full of wild plants are mown down essentially destroying much needed ecosystems for pollinators and are thus replaced with a homogeneous, green, manicured lawn devoid of diversity.
This is an ongoing series, one I hope will never be complete.
- (below left) Family: Rosaceae. (Rosa nutkana) Nootka Rose (2017), Laara Cerman, C-print, 40" x 30" in
- (below right) Family: Rosaceae (Holodiscus discolor) Oceanspray (2019), Laara Cerman, C-print, 40" x 30" in
I have been making art in various mediums for the past 10 years. I have showcased my art at various public arts events over the last 6 years. Currently I have been working towards using more sustainable artistic mediums such as twine and sticks found on the forest floor. I have successfully created 7 sculptures in a south Burnaby park using this medium.
About the artwork
This is a part of a collection of sculptures created with a only a few screws, and the rest is only twine and sticks. The sticks are gathered from the area in which these sculptures live and the twine used is jute. These were created with the purpose of creating something that nature could control. The twine will decompose and the sticks will rot, and nature will decide if they fall back to the earth or morph into something completely new.
- (below left) Lilith the Sleeping Fairy, Nickole Lewis, natural materials
- (below right) The Guardian of the Forest, Nickole Lewis, natural materials
I believe that every day is art. Drawing day by day without wanting to stop and expressing every perspective through the various colours and textures. An artist who is determined to paint a new landscape, my name is Eunju Hong. I moved to Canada back in 2004 with a belief that I can continue my love for art in a bigger nation. I believe my art is the nature that I see, drawn with every emotion. I started painting the trails I walked, and noticed many people walk and pass the same path. Even by passing the same place, I started to notice the changes in the environment such as the colour, the weather, the scent and the texture of the grounds. These differences allow me to create my artwork where another world unfolds. Although my artwork is expressed in my own colour, I paint with the hope that I can sympathize and feel the wonders of nature.
- (below left) no title (2020), Eunju Hong, Acrylic on canvas, 24" x 36" in
- (below right) no title (2020), Eunju Hong, Acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48" in
Inhabitants (2015), Su Chen Wu, Ink on paper, 53" x 26" in
Su Chen Wu
Su Chen Wu was born in Taiwan and acquired her MFA with a scholarship. She started with Western art traditions in middle school but switched to ink painting in university and graduate school. After immigrating to Vancouver, the natural landscape encapsulates Su Chen even closer to the ecological environment found in water-ways and forests. Her recent artwork focuses on a series of driftwood and migratory birds. The metaphorical stories of driftwood and migrating birds seek to address the conditions and impact of immigrants in Canadian culture and environment.
About the artwork
With time passing and climate changing, the sceneries in my artworks would no longer exist in real life after being painted. I always describe myself as an eco-conscious artist and a lover of wildlife. In my artistic practice, I employ organic materials, including bamboo brushes, ink sticks, ink stones, pigments, papers, and water to record variations of the natural environment. My ecological project artwork is a tribute to our land and a ceremony to farewell with some driftwood and waterfowls, for we might not meet again.
Growing up in the countryside of Taiwan, I developed a strong love and connection with nature at an early age. In 2008, I immigrated to British Columbia, Canada, a beautiful place full of forests. Along the west coast, mountains, lakes, rivers and islands formed a natural ecosystem and a route of bird migrations. During the time of my exploration, numerous driftwood was continuously washed onto the shores by natural and industrial forces such as flooding, windstoming, and logging. The countless driftwood seemingly useless and rotted debris; however, they play an indispensable role in our contemporary ecosystem. These tree trunks become shelter of fungus, mosses, and other aquatic species after experiencing many vicissitudes of life. Some trunks play birds’ carriers on the water for fishing or resting stops on the shores for napping. Surrounding the natural neighborhoods, driftwood, and migrating birds enchanted me deeply, but the scene seemed the metaphor of my own journey: far from my hometown with loneliness.
Since 2015, I have been visiting Iona Beach, Deer lake, Fraser River, and west coasts in BC frequently to focus on a contemporary art project of ecological environment. I noticed that the horizons are changing all the time, especially with the driftwood and waterfowls which stay on the shores temporarily for days or even just a few seconds. Therefore, I tried to catch every touching sight and remembered the feeling of each moment immediately before the inspiration vanished. I believe that scenes might not exist for a long time, but the spirit and glory of natural ecology could be retained for centuries by painting.
An idea of Chinese Daoist philosophy - “Following the Nature” advises us to let nature take its course rather than go against it; however, our BC’s rich ancient forests are facing the crisis of high-grade depletion due to our urban growth with high-rise residential buildings rising up around Marine Way, Burnaby Mountain, and other areas in metro Vancouver. By observing and recording the micro ecosystem of the driftwoods, my artistic practices are aiming to reflect the relationship between humans and nature as well as remind people of what we have possessed and lost.
- (below left) Changing (2017), Su Chen Wu, ink on paper, 53" x 26"
- (below right) Lost Horizon (2016), Su Chen Wu, ink on paper, 23.5" x 33.5"
Plastic Ocean I, Kristin Man, Mixed Tech
Born in Hong Kong, Kristin Man is an internationally renowned visual artist and writer with roots in three continents. An Alumnus of United World College of the Atlantic in Wales, (founded after World War II literally to promote international understanding by Sir Kurt Hahn), one of Manʼs first loves, and the inspiration for many of her photographic based works, was the Atlantic Ocean coastline which was visible on campus. Man first explored her practice in photography at the College and combined her love of the ocean with photography in a unique series of works. She carried on her artistic practice alongside her pursuit of a BA in International Relations at Brown University and an MBA at Columbia University as well as her later career in a different sector. Plastic Ocean 1, Plastic Ocean II, Tribute to Zong! (JMW Turnerʼs Slave Ship) and When Vesuvius Rises in Vancouver are delicately hand woven photographic images forming the basis for her series “A-mare” which explores the idea of celebrating diversity and using water as the channel which rises above territorial and cultural borders. Having spent years in Italy on previous projects, Man is well familiar with all of the regions of the country and the Italian language is central to her cognitive process. In Italian “amare” is the verb to love and “al mare” means to [go to] the sea. “Ma” is the universal derivation from mother and in addition the Chinese ideogram of sea contains the ideogram of mother. A combination of these expressions and words gives birth to the concept that if to go to the sea is to love then there is no specific location where we are to love. If to be closer to the sea means to be closer to the source of life, then there is no better reminder of the connectedness of humans than the sea. Her education and travels around the world gave Man the basis for her exploration of the themes of diversity and integration. The unique weavings of each distinct image in her works from this series emphasizes the interconnectedness of both people and cultures, illustrated through the fluid properties of water and the interconnectedness of our oceans. Recently, her video work from the series “A-MARE” has been selected to play a part of the US based global solidarity project “Transcultural Exchange” and this bears testimony to her continuous endeavours of making art in sync of her philosophy of living. Man has exhibited extensively at art fairs internationally and her work can be found in private collections throughout the US, Italy, Singapore, and Beijing.
About the artwork
My life and my art traverse inside-out and outside-in. I imagine that I am from the planet of Venus and have recently relocated back to Vancouver from other continents. Challenging man-made boundaries, respecting diversity and celebrating oneness are important to me. Globalisation, migration, anthropocene and consumerism among many common human issues have generated questions regarding our identity as individuals and in relation to other human beings as well as our environment. To tell my story, I would like to highlight three key projects:
“Fragments of Grey Matter”, “9_9” which are projects released as books and exhibitions and my ongoing project “A-MARE”. At this show, you see a few manifestations from the series “A-MARE”.
“Fragments of Grey Matter”, set in Singapore, examines the notion of beauty in a not-so-aesthetic environment with a self-transformed perspective, “9_9”, set in Italy, examines the multi-layered questions of identity and reality through meeting with other artists and expressing "our" collaboration in our double self-portraits. I learnt that exploring sense of belonging in a foreign country is perhaps best done via creating communities. Through hand-weaving and sculpting of my photographic images taken around the world, Project “A-MARE” ("to love, to sea") seeks to integrate what maybe our life source and of our un_consciousness—just like the fluid nature of our oceans. It is a meditative journey towards our roots, perhaps, towards our shared humanity--the good, the bad and the ugly.
Overall, I think of myself as still growing up. I invite viewers of my work to ask questions and be Artists in Life.
Hot Steel Flowers (2012), Ron Simmer, Recycled steel, aluminum and chrome, 8' x 5' x 5' ft
Ron Simmer works in the area of Vancouver, BC mainly with found materials and objects. He searches for discards that speak to him with the promise of sublime creations that will amaze, tickle, surprise or give pause to think. He enjoys the mental game of taking consumer rejects and making the mundane and common into the unique and spectacular. Since we live in a world in which almost everything is commoditized it is his challenge to repurpose consumer products into the unusual, amazing and funny Ron recycles materials from our consumer culture to create fanciful commentary on modern society. He attempts to take people back to their childhood by creating large scale toys and colorful birds and animals. His art is created to be an interactive physical experience and often incorporates optical illusions.
About the artwork
I search for materials and objects that speak to me with the promise of sublime creations that will amaze, or tickle or surprise or give pause to think. I enjoy the mental game of taking consumer discards and making the mundane and common into the unique and spectacular. We live in a world in which almost everything is commodified – it is my challenge to repurpose consumer products into the unusual, diabolic, amazing and funny.
Humor has always been a strong element of my writing and publishing, such as my series of Bizarre Patent Calendars. Juxtaposing the right combination of physical elements in an installation to produce a laugh is one of the most fulfilling experiences one can have and the most direct form of instantaneous communication……
I am disturbed by the downward spiral of environmental destruction and in my art I illustrate a possible future Anthropocene of flowers and animals made of twisted metal and shredded plastic.
Abhisek Mukherjee was born in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), a pioneering city in Indian renaissance, a place long known for its literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage. Mukherjee has taken a keen interest in art and design since childhood, and holds a Master of Design from NID, a premiere design Institute in India. He is a biophilic sculptor, using elements from nature to create scapes and installations. His early work also includes photo-documentaries and clay models. An apparel designer by profession, he is a winner of Best Collection at Max Design Award (2014) and has worked as a designer at Ed Hardy.
At the age of eight, inspired by his father, Mukherjee made his first plant-scape and developed an interest in “painting” with plants; he would collect and bring home natural pieces with which to create eclectic art. He has recently moved to Vancouver, a city abundant in nature that serves as a muse reflective of his art forms. Mukherjee has started a line of planters and handmade cards called Buno, which means “wild” in Bengali, his mother tongue.
Mukherjee’s key purpose and ideology in creating bio designs is to establish a connection between art and its collector. Having seen much magnificent artistry gathering dust, he prefers to explore a medium wherein a user interacts with the sculpture. He celebrates the importance that plants hold in our lives and hopes to someday open a gallery inside a greenhouse.
About the artwork
Life is a series of breaths: to see a perspective only when the seer and the seen are perfectly aligned. It means there is a connection between them, and an environment of looking after. The interaction that takes place, acts as a directive for the art to ingrain a part of the owner's personality.
The current state of the world has brought about many changes within us and our relationship with the environment. A time where ingrained dynamics are being rethought in hope of healing and saving our planet that we call home. In my time during the residency, should I be fortunate to get a grant, I shall through my design implore fellow beings to understand the delicate yet resilient beauty of ecology and how to best enjoy it.
As a biophilic designer, I consider it my duty to profess my learnings through a series of work that can live in one's house, a place which they take care of and protect. The same understanding of how nature around is a house to numerous species and needs to be protected just like our own home else, imbalances lead to a situation we are in today, yearning to enjoy the smallest fragment of the earth while most of the world stays locked inside.
My work is a medium for people to interact with nature and create a sense of awareness. We identify the most significant place in our childhood with the outdoor experience the natural environment in a deep and direct manner, not as a background for events, but, rather, as a factor and stimulator. An experience where one is involved, with his body, his senses, and his awareness, is likely to be etched in memory for a long time; and the sympathetic attitude one displays toward nature is likely to accompany the experience even when recalled in memory.
- (Right) Kill nothing but time (2020), Abhisek Mukherjee, Mixed Media, 32" in diameter
- (Left) Episodic Thoughts _ Rejuve (2020), Abhisek Mukherjee, Mixed Media, 22" x 18"
Fairy Bonsai by Adam Gibbs from our 2015 exhibition Photographic Convergences.