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VIDEO: Kelowna Art Gallery exhibit ponders post-pandemic life

Titled A Year From Now, the exhibit asks what post-pandemic life will be like through art

A year from now, what do you think life will be like?

That’s the question an exhibit at the Kelowna Art Gallery asks and shows, through visual art, physical space, and poetry.

Wanda Lock is the gallery curator at the Lake Country Art Gallery and was invited by the Kelowna Art Gallery’s executive director Nataley Nagy to put together a new exhibit as a guest curator.

Lock said she and Nagy started talking in May 2020 about what they wanted to showcase in the exhibit. The plan was to use pieces from the gallery’s permanent collection, which contains 900 individual pieces.

“It was an interesting time for everyone in the Valley, in Canada and the world,” she said. “We’ve just heard of the word COVID, and we had started a lockdown at that time.”

Nagy told her the timeline was a year from when they started planning, which appealed to Lock. It brought up many questions for her professionally, personally, and in a broader sense.

“What would a year from now look like? Well, there’ll be a new exhibition at the art gallery. But what would a year from now look like in terms of us? Where will we be with COVID? Would things return to normal? It was a very open statement, and it meant everything and nothing at the same time.”

The exhibit was born out of that question, connected by a series of phrases and poems. When visitors see the display, they have the choice to go through it however they want, visiting “vignettes” that have their own smaller theme.

The pieces in each vignette all show what art and life could be like a year from now while also speaking to the vignette theme and the poem for that specific section.

An example is “love is blind,” which contains artwork of a romantic nature. A two-part painting Tony Scherman depicts Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex, giving a literal meaning to love is blind, as well as a bright and colourful painting by Landon Mackenzie that portrays summer love. Lock said the vignette also showcases that love is blind to what it could look like a year from now: when restrictions are gone or if they will still be here to keep you apart from your loved ones.

Lock said it was a long process putting the exhibit together and difficult in some parts, with many hours of researching each piece.

“At first, it’s wonderful. You pick your favourites … you spend the first month picking your favourites. Mine came down to 198 pieces out of 900,” she said.

“But then I had to pare that down, and this exhibition features 63 of those favourites, but I needed a way to create a cohesive exhibit out of them.”

In all, she said the goal is to get people talking and thinking about what their lives ahead of them will look like and what they should look forward to, as well as to make art accessible by speaking to people’s thoughts, feelings, and fears.

“I do hope people come to see the exhibition more than once… spend some time here. There’s a lot to see,” she said.

A Year From Now runs until Nov. 21. More information is available at the Kelowna Art Gallery website.

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Twila Amato

About the Author: Twila Amato

Twila was a radio reporter based in northern Vancouver Island. She won the Jack Webster Student Journalism Award while at BCIT and received a degree in ancient and modern Greek history from McGill University.
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