Friday, June 22, 2012

Recommend: The Forest Lover

A few weeks ago, I looked up the AGH (Art Gallery of Hamilton) to see what was new: I love wandering through the galleries and discovering new artists. This month, an Emily Carr exhibit was opening and sounded interesting. I made a note of it to check out at some point this summer.

About a week later, I was browsing my bookshelves for a new novel to start (I own so many I still have yet to read!) and pulled out The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland. This was one of the books my supervisor / advisor gave me when he was purging his own overflowing bookshelves....

A novel about Emily Carr! What are the odds? I knew her name had sounded familiar for more than one reason! I quickly devoured the novel and took myself on a date to the AGH as soon as I finished.

First - the book. I highly recommend it for all artists, especially Canadians and women. It was very well written - a great summer read. Vreeland nicely illustrated the battle female artists went through at the beginning of the 20th century for recognition as serious artists. It also detailed Carr's struggle to find her muse and, once found, her quest to develop her painting techniques to reflect what she was feeling instead of simply reproducing what she was seeing. It's a very compelling and inspiring read.

Next - the exhibit. Oh gosh! This was one of my favourite exhibits I've seen at the AGH - I highly recommend it! There were three whole rooms filled with Carr's paintings, and it was really neat to see some of the ones I'd just read about. I also really enjoyed experiencing the progression of her art as she matured into a more expressive style.

I brought my sketchbook along (instead of Pat or a friend) because I knew I'd want to jot down some things while I was there. Here's what I came home with:
As you can see in the first photo, I started by sketching some African carved wooden masks. I was initially a little intimidated to pull out my sketchbook - it was the first time I'd done so in public, and I was the only one sketching there. But this African exhibit was upstairs (a free one) and pretty empty, so that's where I worked up my nerve. It was really this mask that did it:
The long skinny face and nose were interesting, but it was the pouty lips that really got me! I really like this motherly one too - her headpiece was so intricate:
What struck me most about this African exhibit was the strong parallels to the Native Canadian imagery in Carr's work. The wood carvings had a very similar feel to the totem poles - primitive and yet sophisticated in their own way. They tell a story of spirits and community.

1 comment:

Angie said...

you got some great sketches from the exhibit!