Art exhibit mines secrets of Agassiz and area locals

A new three-part art series will explore hidden or buried truths and secrets in the Kent and Harrison area.

Curated by artist Caitlin Chaisson, presented by artist-led initiative Far Afield and working with Kent Harrison Arts Council, Ranger Station Art Gallery and the Agassiz Fall Fair, Touchstones: Deep Time in the Near Future features work from artists Lexie Owen, Carrielynn Victor and Lianne Zannier as they address ideas of “hidden or embedded knowledge, nature’s intelligence and systems of value” with unconventional local projects.

Related: Vancouver artist brings unique style to Ranger Station Art Gallery

The project originated with something not only hidden, but nearly forgotten.

A time capsule was buried in Agassiz in September, 1988 and contains items from a former experimental farm. Dated to be unearthed in 2088, the capsule’s existence and history has been largely forgotten, according to Chaisson.

Vancouver-based artist Caitlin Chaisson curated ‘Touchstones: Deep Time in the Near Future.’ (Nina Grossman/The Observer)

“It was very difficult to find any information on it whatsoever,” she said. “It was interesting to think that we’re already forgetting these things after such a short span of time.”

That’s why, nearing the thirtieth anniversary of its burial, the artists involved in Chaisson’s series are working to address the visibility or invisibility of certain types of knowledge, practices and histories.

“This is kind of an intervention into that historical transmission so we don’t forget certain things, so that we see ourselves in a wider span of history,” Chaisson explained. “This entire project is very locally derived…None of the artists directly evoke the idea of the time capsule, but that’s why [the series] is happening here and that’s why it’s happening this month.”

To launch the series Sept.1 comes an exhibit at the Ranger Station Art Gallery from Stó:lo artist Carrielynn Victor. Victor’s Rooted People is a series of simple yet intricate watercolour drawings that blend nature with human organs and body systems.

These images are a manifestation of the connections between healing plants and the human body practiced in Stó:lo traditional medicine. “She’s really interested in the relationship between plant systems and body systems and thinking about things like herbalism and naturopathy and the way that those practices emerge in traditional Stó:lo medicine,” said Chaisson.

“She’s mixed specific plants that have healing properties with different parts of the body.”

Victor’s exhibit will be on display until Sept. 30.

The second installation won’t be found in a gallery, but can be viewed online starting Sept.12. Lianne Zannier’s all the cool girls were gemstones but I was just a sedimentary rock is an exploration of “socially constructed expectations and interpretations of value,” according to Chaisson.

Combining hand-drawn, digital and partially animated compositions, Zannier’s work invites a closer examination of what is expected and valued in our society.

“She’s thinking about, how do we designate things that are precious? Or things that aren’t precious?” said Chaisson. “She has a mix of hand-drawn 3D model rocks and then a costume that she wears to turn herself into a rock.”

Finally, Lexie Owen’s Fair Secrets invites Agassiz and surrounding communities to participate in a secret-revealing exhibit at the annual Agassiz Fall Fair. But don’t worry, it’s all anonymous.

Fair Secrets will invite the community to share their deepest confessions at a booth set up over the fair weekend. Lighthearted confessions and secret recipes are also welcome.

Chaisson said the final exhibit really draws on the series theme.

“There’s so many layers and so many narratives in each place. I think that [this] project really helps to draw those out by thinking about local vernaculars and the way that people inhabit their towns,” she explained.

With these anonymous contributions, the artist will create a collective representation of the harboured secrets in small, limited-edition publication.

For more information on Touchstones: Deep Time in the Near Future, visit farafield.ca.

Nina Grossman

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Nina Grossman

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