Iconic animals in Amelia Douglas Gallery’s latest exhibit

"Frankie" by Elizabeth Carefoot
“Frankie” by Elizabeth Carefoot

Exploring the human-animal connection through mixed media art

By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor

Icons: Sacred and Profane is the latest collection of mixed media artwork to fill the Amelia Douglas Gallery, arriving April 16. Mixing animals with cultural, religious, and biological imagery, artists Elizabeth Carefoot and Deborah Putman explore the connection that people have with animals in their works for the exhibit.

Carefoot’s works in Icons include paintings of animals in place of saints and angels in traditional imagery, as well as small shrines.

“I grew up with Russian icons. For this show, I wanted to poke gentle fun at this very traditional and stiff art form by combining animal heads with saintly gestures and robes,” she wrote to the Other Press.

“I wish these depictions to be a gateway to allow the viewer to think more deeply on the roles of animals in our lives—how we treat them and how they would treat us if we truly loved and understood them,” she explained in her artist statement.

One of her art shrines is a soft sculpture of her daughter’s cat, Frankie, framed by medieval architecture and roses. The art piece began as an experiment in creating an icon in a soft sculpture.

“My creative process stems directly from play. I play intuitively, never make elaborate plans or sketches, but simply gather materials together that might or might not work and take my inspiration from these,” Carefoot wrote.

Putman’s works for Icons include two series of artwork, ‘Totems” and “Generation DNA,” which feature animals, plants, people, DNA strands, and more.

“Creatures both domestic and wild, daemons and dream animals, populate the show revealing historical evolution both personally and collectively,” Putman wrote. “Themes include the Beauty in the natural world, its necessity and losses, as well as scientific play with DNA and GMOs (genetically modified foods) and potential results.”

The exhibit opens on April 16 with an opening reception in the gallery from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“I look forward to chatting with guests who attend the exhibition opening,” Putman wrote. “It is a wonderful opportunity to share my works at the college gallery juxtaposed with Elizabeth Carefoot’s works.”

There will also be an artist’s talk in the gallery on May 21 at 7:30 p.m., which members of the community are welcome to attend.

“I love showing and talking to the students at Douglas College,” Carefoot wrote. “The gallery staff, students, and faculty are very welcoming.”

For more information on these artists, check out their official websites at DeborahPutman.com and ElizabethCarefoot.com. Icons: Sacred and Profane will run from April 16 to June 6 at the Amelia Douglas Gallery on the fourth floor of the Douglas College New Westminster campus.