As my tenure as the Ranger Station Art Gallery Artist in Residence comes to a close, I am able to look back on almost a full year, a complete cycle of seasons, and the amazing breadth of experience it has provided, both geographically and creatively. It has been a dream year of sorts for which I know I will always feel appreciative and blessed to have lived.
My arrival here in September of 2012 was something of a whirlwind, after a summer in New York and Toronto area for another Artist Residency and the opening of a solo exhibition at Parts Gallery. The previous spring and winter provided large doses of both upheaval and opportunity and I feel that now, eighteen months after leaving my studio in East Vancouver, I am at a completely new and exciting place in life.
Several things in my experience have evolved. Due to the incredible beauty and close proximity of the Ranger Station to nature, I have taken thousands of photographs, sharing them daily on Instagram and Flickr as well as occasionally on Facebook. This has garnered interest in this area, the gallery and the residency program from a diverse audience reaching as far as Australia, Europe, Central America and throughout the US. Some of these photographs have been re-posted by Canadian Geographic Magazine and Tourism BC and Canada. This photographic journey also allowed me to explore the idea of digitally manipulating the images and from this blossomed the plan to explore the juxtaposing stories of nature and man-made elements within the construct of the First Nations Totem, both in vertical reference to the Totem Pole as well as ideologically as visual symbols for what I believe modern society holds as important or relevant.
I so enjoyed the historical aspect of living and working in the Ranger Station building, feeling every day to be a unique gift, for me creatively to explore my work and ideas but also emotionally to dig deeper than perhaps what a ‘normal’ lifestyle of studio practice, meetings and social life could possibly afford. While the theme of my autumn was a daily routine of swimming, walking, riding and observing (basically, totally falling in love with the unbelievable beauty of the Harrison Lake area) and dipping in to work on the studio, winter turned inward with outer quiet and far less sunlight. And rain. And then snow. I ventured further out spending more time driving and hiking than when I first arrived. I loved bringing my mandolin and blankets with thermoses of tea and soup and finding a new place to sit and enjoy. Kilby, Harrison Mills, Morris Valley, Greenpoint, Hicks Lake and other places inspired my days. In my Station home I had a special chair placed at the back window looking directly out to the lake. I loved sitting there in the mid to late afternoon with tea, a book or a sketchbook and inevitably, Catty Mac.
Spring and now summer brought with them the building of a new momentum, engaging a rigorous routine of working in the studio. Most days I would spend between seven and thirteen hours painting, drawing, sewing, building, planning or on the computer with Photoshop. I was able to finish and create sixty-seven new pieces for the exhibition. When I unpack and move into my next studio I look forward to continuing with many of the ideas and forms that have just began to percolate while in the Ranger Station studio.
Two large drawings from my ‘Exploring Totem’ exhibition are currently in the 2nd Fraser Valley Biennale at The Reach Gallery in Abbotsford (until September 8) and ten of the paintings on wood panel are up in the Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Rental and Sales Showroom where I am the feature artist for August, September and October (Artist talk on Tuesday, October 8th, 7pm.) There are a few other things in the works that I am stoked to be a part of and if you’d like to keep in touch or follow the thread of this experience into the next, feel free to follow this blog or Flickr (humstonstudio), Instagram (humstonstudios) or Facebook.
Thank you to all those who conspired to place me here and helped and hindered along the way. To all of you I am grateful.