The artists behind ‘Interpretations’. From left to right: Lee-Anne Chisholm, Cheri Maisonneuve, and Katja Kovanen. contributed photos

Exploring femininity: three artists collaborate on Quesnel Art Gallery’s upcoming show

Three artists interpret the meaning of divine femininity

Art, friendship and divine femininity: that’s what ‘Interpretations’, a new show coming to the Quesnel Art Gallery, is all about.

The artists have been working on the show for about a year now, though they haven’t known each other much longer.

Cheri Maisonneuve, Lee-Anne Chisholm and Katja Kovanen are all artists from Quesnel, but with vastly different styles and experiences.

The women decided to work together on the show “so that we didn’t have to each create 20 works for a show. And just to kind of build that tribe of artistic women in the community,” says Maisonneuve.

The show will be a combination of individual and collaborative pieces.

To create the collaborative pieces, the artists would pick a word relating to the theme of divine femininity — such as freedom, wisdom, power, empathy, passion — and then each would begin a piece relating to their chosen word.

Then they would meet up, and whichever piece inspired them individually would be the next piece they worked on. All of the collaborative pieces are layered with different mediums, styles, and the individual artists’ interpretations. “You can see the layers,” says Chisholm. “And then that’s where everything is hidden, in the layers.”

Individually, the artists also worked to create pieces to supplement the words and theme.

The show “kind of exudes femininity,” says Maisonneuve. “Even the masculine pieces… but [it’s] not girly. They’re not pink and ruffles.”

“It’s really emotional,” adds Chisholm. “All of our takes on the words have a different emotional connection to them. So, hopefully the people who come in will find their own connection.”

“Yeah,” Kovanen interjects: “their own interpretation.”

They say they’ve all inspired and learned from each other as the show evolved. “It just turned out to be so much more than I thought,” says Chisholm.

Chisholm and Maisonneuve have both been creating art all their lives. “I’m a creative, I was just born, I think, appreciating the colour and beauty around me,” says Maisonneuve.

Kovanen didn’t start painting until about five years ago, but she’s been designing and creating jewelery for the last 20 years. She even creates some of her own eyeglass frames — something she spent time in Finland learning how to do.

It’s Kovanen’s second show at the gallery, after having her first show run two years ago. The first featured a series of portraits.

‘Interpretations’ has taken hundreds of hours of work to put together. It’s not just the painting that takes time though — it’s the research, the development of an idea, coming up with an example and then translating it to a canvas; and even then, sometimes it still doesn’t look quite right and it’s back to the drawing board.

“Not all the things that we’ve created over the year are going to be in the show. I know I’ve painted every week,” says Kovanen. Putting in the time is simply a necessary part of the process.

“None of my works are ever finished,” adds Maisonneuve. “I can always add something more.”

The show opens on Sept. 7, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. All three artists will be in attendance and plan to host an artist talk, where they will discuss the art, the theme of the show and the process of creating it. The show will run until Oct. 6.

On Oct. 5, the artists plan to host a second event. Throughout the duration of the show, visitors will be able to participate in a “seek and find,” looking for the things hidden in the layers of the paintings. Anyone who participates will be entered into a draw to win a print from the show.

The winner will be drawn on Oct. 5, and attendees will also have another opportunity to meet the artists and speak with them about their works, both individual and collaborative.

“I think this will, hopefully, inspire other artists to really get out there and put it out there,” says Maisonneuve. “Because it’s kind of — you’re putting yourself out there in a public way for people to critique your creations. Which is kind of a vulnerable position … but the trust and the quality of the work that we’ve created blows my mind.”



heather.norman@quesnelobserver.com

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