Union Gallery

Image of the Gallery

MAin Space

Stories We Tell Ourselves
Heather Smith, Mackenzie Browning
January 20 - February 14, 2012
Reception: Saturday, January 28, 6-8pm
Visual Bites: Wednesday, February 8, 2:30pm
(Artist Talks followed by a discussion with Master of Art Conservation students on conservation techniques and issues)

Heather Smith and MAckenzie Browning
Stories We Tell Ourselves is a chance to imagine an escape to a simpler time and place.

Heather Smith | Artist’s Statement
The spruce forest is dense, dark and deep. It is an endless mesh of close-set trunks and interwoven branches. In depicting this place from my childhood home, I use a very stylized manner, heavily influenced by early twentieth-century children’s book illustrators, such as Arthur Rackham and Ivan Bilibin. My intention is to give the forest the mystery and magic of a fairy tale. Through the Woods is a 4 x 7 foot woodcut whose subject is the feeling and atmosphere of the spruce forest: an urge to explore behind the next tree and a bit of fear for what might be lurking there, but also the sense of a dark cathedral, with a bit of light filtering through the windows: silent and still and sacred.

I searched for stories in the land branches out from the heart of the woods into a broader visual depiction of my home in rural Nova Scotia. There is an abandoned campfire on a frozen beaver pond, a burning cabin in the woods, and mysterious smoke-spirits escaping from the roots of a tree. With these images I have used not only a storybook aesthetic, but also some bits of direct narration. The textures of the constellations, interweaving branches, twisting bark and curling tendrils of smoke together form a many-layered forest; celestial and haunted, full of wonder and curiosity. The forest offers to me a wonderful and imaginative escape from hectic day-to-day life. In my eyes, the woods itself is a storybook, and one that needed to be illustrated.

Heather Smith is a fourth year BFA student at Queen’s University. She has shown in Kingston, Ontario, Victoria, B.C. and Antigonish, N.S. Heather is a printmaker who works mostly with woodcut in a graphic, illustrative style. She lives at the Artel: Arts Accommodation and Venue, and intends to stay in Kingston after graduation.

Mackenzie Browning | Artist’s Statement
Mackenzie Browning’s collection of work originates from found and vernacular photography. The source photographic images were acquired from cities throughout North America, South America, and Europe. These vintage snap-shots were lost, unclaimed or otherwise discarded from their origins, making the photographer unknown. Mackenzie has re-authored and redesigned these images, translating them into print-media through screen-print and lithography.

The prevailing idea surrounding Mackenzie’s work is the storyline of personal histories. Each one of us as human beings hold onto memories from the past, but these memories are often changed and distorted to suit our needs in the present day. Mackenzie deconstructs his own history to create a new one that fulfills his current needs and desires. These desires revolve around the “family unit” and finding happiness in a fast paced urban lifestyle. This new family history is a fictional ideal, one that forms a way of escaping reality and modern life. These images of people have become a mental diversion by means of colour and narration.

Mackenzie Browning is a fourth year BFA student at Queen’s University who is majoring in Printmaking. Mackenzie is fascinated by found photography, rural life and the snap-shot aesthetic. Mackenzie plans to achieve an MFA in the near future.

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