As Salt Spring National Art Prize month continues with associated exhibitions at Mahon Hall, ArtSpring and the Salt Spring Gallery, other venues around the island are also taking the opportunity to showcase exciting new work.
A show that opened at KiZmit on Friday demonstrates the exciting possibilities when experienced artists explore ideas. The exhibit features new techniques by Gabrielle Jensen and LeeAnn Norgard.
Jensen explained that when she was invited by cafe/gallery owner Carola Heydemann to have a show at KiZmit and to choose her co-exhibitor, she immediately picked Norgard.
“We didn’t even really know what paths the other was on. I just knew that I could trust the work and harmony between the two of us,” Jensen said. “And then when LeeAnn came to see me about what I was working on it was like, ‘Oh my god, we’re doing the same stuff’ — sort of additive and subtractive, tonal and muted palette. So the harmony was already there.”
Jensen’s new work involves both black and white and colour on treated mylar. The substrate has a natural resistance to the ink medium she’s using, which she layers on and takes off in sections with a brush. In her colour pieces, she works pastel pigment into the medium. Sanding the surface helps dictate how the ink will take and in turn informs the human figures depicted, which Jensen intuitively teases out, rather than having an image in mind that she imposes on the space.
The figures are naturally elongated because of the technique. They are also a little bit ghostly, emerging from a nebulous background in a way that draws the viewer in to learn more about these evocative characters.
Norgard has also been working in the mode of adding and subtracting elements to her ceramic works, some of which blur the boundary between sculpture and functional ware and some of which are purely decorative. She has been exploring a new direction with wheel-based forms since contributing some wall-hanging pieces to the Salt Spring Arts Council’s Easter Art Show last spring.
“Since doing that I realized I can really do a little more hand-building and add a little flare at the end, and really get creative with the texture of the additions,” Norgard said.
Norgard finds deep inspiration in natural forms. In recent years the amazing structures of different microscopic diatoms have influenced her designs; now she is returning to an earlier inspiration, the equally varied seed pods of trees and flowering plants.
“I realized I wanted to dive back in with the knowledge of how to add in bits and pieces and just be a bit more creative with the hand-building. So that’s been a lot of fun,” Norgard said.
This includes carving, altering and hand-forming elements, and creating more variation in line to make the shapes more organic. For example, a wheel-thrown mug is carved with wavy vertical lines to evoke the seed pod, with the mug’s lip slightly fluted and crimped. The soft green-toned vessel is snugged into a fitted chocolate brown saucer shaped like a ruff of sepals. Norgard’s use of spray glaze creates layered tones that add to the work’s organic quality — and provides natural continuity with Jensen’s current direction.