This week, I sat down with Grande Prairie artist Shanda Fuller, the artist exhibiting alongside myself at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. Shanda’s show My Travels will be up until March 5, while my show Lineage will be on display until Feb. 27. What follows is part one of our exchange, where Shanda quizzed me about my work.
Shanda Fuller: Why is sharing your lineage and history so important to you and what brought you back to the Peace Country?
Halley Bassett: In Lineage, I used my total body of work, including drawings from my early childhood all the way up to my current work, to explore how we come to be who we are, making this show a retrospective of sorts. Seeing as it’s admittedly early for me to have a retrospective (I am not yet 30), I wanted to look into my pre-history, or my family’s history, to discover how the forces that shaped my ancestors’ lives continue to shape my own.
The Peace Country is a large component of that. It was a long road, but both sides of my family eventually settled here following winding histories of displacement and upheaval. It’s so unlikely that they found themselves in the Peace, and so random that I exist. So in that way, I consider those histories, and this land, to be a part of me.
SF: I love how you have created “rooms” of your artwork in the gallery. What inspired you to do so?
HB: Memory is an important theme in my show. Lately I have taken up the charge of my grandparents’ old home, which is steeped in memories for me. I have read a bit about how memory works, and how our spatial memory is much stronger then our faculty for rote memorization. So I wanted to situate the show in a familiar, domestic space, to trigger a similar remembrance and nostalgia in the viewer about the spaces that have shaped them.
SF: What is the meaning behind your hanging installation with the poplar trunks?
HB: I used In Hindsight to explore the fleeting nature of time. I likened a moment to sighting a wild animal, in this case a deer, and how they melt away from view through the trees. They are merely glimpsed before they slip away, like time.
SF: If you could do anything at all with your art anywhere in the world, what would you do and where would that be?
HB: Fortunately, I am already where I want to be. I have a few ideas for land-based art that I would like to do here in the Peace. One among them is to take old chainsaw carvings from Chetwynd and place them in a meadow somewhere. I like the idea of arranging them as if they are monuments left behind from a lost, bizarre civilization. I think it would be interesting to see them grow old and be reclaimed by the earth in some strange, forgotten sculpture garden. As a separate project, I would like to modify a seed drill so I could seed patterns using wildflowers. I think it would be beautiful, and bee-friendly.
Don’t forget to drop by the Dawson Creek Art Gallery to take in Lineage and My Travels while you can. Dawson Creek is the first stop for Lineage in a tour of Northern BC. Next it will travel to the Mackenzie Arts Centre in Mackenzie, Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George and Island Mountain Arts in Wells.
Tune in next week for Shanda’s answers to my questions about her show.
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