Creativity. It’s everywhere in this space. Aimee Henny Brown’s ideas and inspirations spread across the large table in the light, airy studio. The work hangs from bookshelves and scatters across the room.
Much like Brown herself, the art she produces is unique and undefinable in its category. It’s not paintings but she uses paint. It’s not sewing but she uses thread and needle. It’s not photography but she uses photos. It’s not any one thing; it is many ideas and creative tools and techniques brought together to make statements about place and time. She is a printmaker, a drawer, a bookbinder. The artist uses an interdisciplinary approach to her pieces to convey a message greater than the medium.
“I’m not that classical vision of an artist,” she explains. “I do a lot of research. In some ways, it might be more apt to call myself a research-based more than a studio-based artist.”
Brown, the artist-in-residence at the Ranger Station Art Gallery, has spent most of her time here studying and reacting to local history, botany and stories. She has a fascination with archives and spent countless hours in the Agassiz-Harrison museum poring over local history. What she has drawn out of her time, and turned into something tangible and relatable, will be on display at her upcoming solo show at the gallery.
It’s important to Brown to centre her work in a place, to be “site-responsible,” instead of parachuting her ideas and inspiration into a new location. She spent months researching, searching for connections and curiosities buried in the community. Brown focuses on micro research, digging deep on particular topics.
In Harrison, she dove into the history of logging, the flood, even the actual location of her artist-in-residency, the Ranger Station. She found great interest in the duality of Harrison, with nature playing a big role in community identity and tourism draws, but also the industry that supports the area and the highly-constructed needs of a place that brings in thousands of visitors each year. She hopes viewers find a way to look at local history with new interest.
“The value of it is in asking ourselves what has happened to bring us where we are,” she says, elaborating that it is not just in the looking back, but in how we analyze what came before us and how we can move forward based on what we learn.
Brown, a self-professed “nostalgia junkie,” says the drawings, miniatures and photos in the show will represent historical moments but also imaginary visions of what the term ‘shelter’ can symbolize.
The theme of ‘shelter’ tied the threads of Brown’s diverse studies while in Harrison. Aside from the archival research, she also did intensive study of local botany, industry and the ideas of survivalism.
Lastly, there is an element of imagination in the show, with Brown presenting dream-like ideas about shelter, allowing the viewer to be imaginative with the idea of shelter.
‘Shelter’ will be on display at the Ranger Station Art Gallery, 98 Rockwell Drive, from June 6 to July 5. Opening reception is Sunday, June 7 from 2-4 p.m.