Collaborative Alchemy’ on display until mid-December
By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter
Prints and sculptures have taken root on the fourth floor of Douglas College’s New Westminster campus as the Amelia Douglas Gallery (n4002) acts as a greenhouse for a new plant-based exhibition.
Collaborative Alchemy, which features the work of artists Pierre Leichner, Edward Peck, and Phyllis Schwartz, is an interactive exhibition of visual art using plant-based materials that have been shaped to form both two-dimensional and three-dimensional pieces.
According to the artist statements, the use of planet-based materials “speak to issues of permanence and impermanence,” and “challenge the viewer to contemplate time, form, and the ephemeral.”
When patrons enter the Amelia Douglas Gallery, they are immediately greeted by digital prints on foamboard of “Grassroots Worker,” the star work of artist Pierre Leichner in Le Project Grassroots.
The project took shape while Leichner was completing a Master of Fine Arts and used a skill learned as a child in Provence, France. Each Christmas, the Leichner family planted wheat on cotton in a dish and hoped that the budding grass would grow straight and strong. After growing the grass, Leichner recalls pulling the grass out of the dish and realizing that the roots had formed to the mold. Armed with a framework on how to fashion roots, Leichner experimented with the idea, and after several attempts began to consistently make solid sculptures by root molds through his family’s tradition.
The muses for “Grassroots Workers” are the faces of eight grassroot workers nominated by the Eastside Vancouver community of Britannia. The sculptures take approximately three weeks to complete and are composed entirely of wheatgrass.
At the centre of the gallery patrons can interact with one of the grassroot worker sculptures in a display that is set to mimic a greenhouse and has examples of wheatgrass and other elements used to create the installation.
“It’s hard enough for me to keep my house plants alive,” remarked Courtaney Sommerfeld, a third-year Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology student at Douglas, when asked about her thoughts about the plant-based exhibition.
The other artwork featured in Collaborative Alchemy are a series of dye sublimation prints on aluminum that capture plants at different stages of the lifecycle by Edward Peck, and several unique photogram silver gelatin prints by Phyllis Schwartz—which are prominently displayed on the exterior wall of the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre.
Collaborative Alchemy will be on display at the Amelia Douglas Gallery until December 14. The exhibition is free to students and the public, and gallery hours are 10 am to 7:30 pm, Monday to Friday, and 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday. The gallery is closed on Sundays.