Kobi Christian, arts curator for the Langley Centennial Museum, spoke to the current exhibit based on Jane Urquhart’s novel, Away. (Roxanne Hooper/Black Press Media)

VIDEO: Written word inspires Langley art show

Walnut Grove woman organizes a show by artists in her book club.

Artists glean their inspiration from many different aspects of life.

For Walnut Grove’s Laura Auxier, the muse for some of her artwork comes from the written word.

Auxier, age 32, is a member of the Vancouver-based Open Book Art Collective, and she very literally pulled her ideas for some of her most recent art from pages of Jane Urquhart’s book, Away.

In fact, a dozen pieces currently hanging at the Langley Centennial Museum are from Auxier’s collection.

There’s a Gesture series of 10 graphite pencil and ink drawings depicting hands submerged in water. Plus, there’s another two of her panels of dandelions in different stages of life.

These were Auxier’s interpretations from the collective’s latest selection, Away.

“We are a group of women who gather and we chose a book and we read it as a book club… We take themes from the book we’re reading, and we draw artistic imagery from it, and then we have a show,” said Auxier, who grew up immersed in the world of art thanks to her art professor mom.

Away is a 1993 Urquhart novel tracing the lives of four generations of women across landscapes: from the rocky coasts of 19th century Northern Ireland to the slums of Montreal, to the present-day shores of Lake Ontario – emotive, political and literal landscapes that both enchant and devastate the characters.

Themes of displacement and connection to land resonate with contemporary realities of the refugee crisis, colonial legacy, and industrial development pushing the earth to the brink of environmental collapse.

These broader themes of identity and place are echoed alongside the intimate details of four women’s lives whose stories form the heartbeat of the narrative.

Whether their subject matter is water, permeable bodies, or personal articles essential for survival, each artist has interpreted themes from the novel according to their various art practices and the way the writing impacted them personally.

Auxier, who organized this show in her own backyard, explained that eight of nine fellow artists in the collective are participating in this show.

She’s pretty psyched, not only about her works, but the installations of the other artists.

“I loved it, so I pursued it,” she said of her career in art.

Auxier graduated from the TWU’s art program. While her primary and preferred medium is drawing, she paints in acrylics and explores other forms of multi-media, including printmaking.

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Open until March 25

The collective’s latest show opened in late January, and runs until the end of March.

It’s “artful reading” inspired by Urquhart’s seventh novel, and it makes for a very impactful and powerful show, said museum’s arts and heritage curator Kobi Christian.

“The artists of Open Book Art Collective have created a diverse body of work that responds to the poetic and cyclical storytelling found in the novel, intending to honour the richness of the literature,” Christian added.

“The opening went really well, and we’ve been getting some really strong responses,” Auxier said.

“And people have been leaving a lot of positive notes and feedback. We’re excited to have engaged with the community so much.”

The show, entitled Away: Artful Reading Inspired, remains on exhibit until March 31. It is on display in the main gallery at the museum, located at 9135 King St. in Fort Langley.

Admission is by voluntary donation.

 

The show, called Away: Artful Reading Inspired, is on display at the Langley Centennial Museum. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

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