Thursday, 17 September 2015

Beautiful Dissonance

It's loud inside Oso Negro–Nelson, British Columbia's busiest coffee house. The sounds of grinding machines, steamers, and a room packed full human beings rushing from caffeine with the urgency of dexedrine freaks blend into a factory like cacophony. Concrete, steal, and hefty squared beams gives the interior of this mountain-town espresso bar an industrial feel which seems ironic at first, but it's also very fitting for a city originally built from extracting materials from the surrounding forests and mountains. It's the perfect context for visual artist Stephanie Kellett's newest body of work–an exhibit juxtaposing charismatic megafauna with industrial civilization. The majority of the pieces are elegant line drawings of animals such as caribou, wolves, and grizzly bears that have been paired with everyday tools of resource extraction. Each animal depicted in the line drawings wears a mask–perhaps speaking to their invisibility to industry, their need to hide from humans, or maybe just Kellett's non-didactic way of provoking viewers to wonder. Four large acrylic color paintings are included in the show. These position surreal, almost manufactured looking landscapes beside wild creatures engaging in primordial relationships with one another. Viewing them, I'm soothed by the image of wolves tenderly displaying affection, yet also deeply drawn into the center of what appears to be an open pit mine. This is a beautiful yet incredibly dissonant exhibit inspiring questions about the interface of contemporary society with nature which, I believe, is the artist's point.

The show runs for the month of September.


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