It’s been said that beauty can be found anywhere, and that’s exactly what Anne J. Steves, the Kent Harrison Arts Council’s artist in residence, is trying to share with onlookers during her new exhibition Soft Truth.
Steves’ work primarily uses textiles and thread-based media, but she’s also experienced in painting, drawing and photography.
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University and later earning a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria, Steves has shown work across Canada and the United Kingdom.
The textile artist was born and raised in Wales, but moved to Canada in 2000. Craft-making is an important part of the Welsh culture, and Steves said it’s had an influence on her work.
“Craft techniques are often so heavily embodied in the places we live and the skills needed to survive there, and so I draw upon them as a means to connect with a new place and community,” she said. “I think this stems from my experience of arriving in Canada from Wales and attempting to find an understanding of somewhere through making art.”
But Wales isn’t the only place that influences Steves’ art. Working on her pieces primarily through residencies, Steves finds herself based in a new location often.
“It has influenced my work in every way; that is the great thing about being an artist who works through artist residencies,” she said. “Each experience changes your work a little and influences the next project.”
During her time with the Kent Harrison Arts Council, Steves has worked on her upcoming exhibition which has heavily evolved since she first started the project at the beginning of her term last year.
“A year is a long time to keep focus on a project, and yet the time goes so fast,” she said. “My original proposal was quite different from what I have ended up with and that is quite typical of me and my art practice. I like to be open to the influence of time and place and community.”
The series consists of 15 small works of painting and textiles, as well as some interactive pieces and a window piece.
Some of the pieces will feature text as well. Throughout her residence, Steves had visitors answer questions that were posted at the gallery and a few of those answers have been incorporated into her work.
“Some of these responses have made their way into embroidered works, which tell some sort of truth about the place,” she said.
Steves also gained inspiration from the beauty of the area of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs.
One of her pieces incorporates a piece of fabric that she coloured each day mirroring the surface colour of Harrison Lake during the spring melt.
“It is a record of the landscape, but an imperfect one,” she explained. “I am not really interested in perfection and accuracy, more stories and impressions. I developed a way for these impressions to combine painting with my textile work.”
The inspiration for the exhibition’s title stems from the history of craft and feminist art-making, and how art can take on a new meaning when viewed through different perspectives.
“I came across an example in mathematics where the angles of a triangle in geometry must add up to 180 degrees, but when the same triangle is applied to a globe this “fact” or “truth” no longer applies,” she explained. “There are things in this world which we hold as truth but when seen from another perspective no longer apply. “Soft Truth” is my title because I wanted to make work about this place that was open to interpretation, malleable, inaccurate and, nonetheless, true.”
Steves’ work will be on display at the Ranger Station Gallery from June 5 to July 1, with an opening reception this Sunday (June 5) from 2 to 4 p.m.