“Journey” (some thoughts on an exhibition)

SettingWest 1

SettingWest 2

SettingWest 3I had the opportunity last month to exhibit my photography work in a local gallery, The Beaumont Studios. The exhibit, titled “Journey” was a joint show with another very talented Vancouver-based photographer, Adam Stenhouse. We had the support of curator Rita Minichiello of Vernissage Photography and Exhibitions, who was a great source of positive energy and knowledge throughout the whole process (thank-you, Rita!).

Showing my work in an exhibition wasn’t one of my goals for this year; in fact, it wasn’t even on my radar.  I was perfectly content with showing a few photographs in a group show and calling it a day. But then this opportunity landed in my lap, and it has been incredibly rewarding on more levels than one.

The artist statement that I wrote for “Journey” isn’t telling of the fact that these photos sat on my computer, dead to the world, for almost a year and a half before they emerged into the world in printed form. To be frank – I wasn’t in love with them. I felt that they were too abstract, and in all honesty too much like 90’s style wallpaper to be of any interest (think classic trims featuring sweeps of colour, often found in dentist’s offices when you are staring at the ceiling). Thankfully, though, I had a few cheerleaders who were instrumental in getting these images off of my hard drive and onto some white walls!

The process from hard drive to display in a gallery was an interesting one for me; there are so many little decisions to make, and also in my case, a limited budget to be conscious of. Which photos to select, how many images to use, the size of the prints, whether to frame or not to frame…decisions that are definitely small, but when you are displaying your work for people to observe and enjoy, amplify in importance. Silly but true!

During opening night, watching people look at my photographs and discussing my work was ultimately one of the most intimidating, and also one of the most satisfying things that I’ve done in some time. It’s scary putting something you’ve made on a wall where anyone and everyone can come and observe, give their own opinions (whether good or bad), and question your methods and intent. The opening of our exhibition was followed up by an artist talk the following week where both myself and Adam got to discuss our work in more detail. Again, nerve-racking, but in the end fun (I never thought that I would actually LIKE talking in front of people, but teaching has given me a bit of a taste for an audience, ha!).

My favourite part of this whole experience came right after our artist talk, while chatting with a woman who was in attendance. She approached me and thanked me for my talk, saying that she felt inspired and less afraid to take out her camera, experiment, and have fun – in other words to unapologetically tap into her creativity. Any anxiety I had during the whole process of showing and talking about my work went away in that exact moment – because that is why I love being creative (doing anything – taking photographs, doodling cartoons, writing). The power that it gives you to help other people take a moment to admire beauty, laugh, realize something about themselves or the world around them, and ultimately take risks (whether creatively or otherwise) is unparalleled. Now, I think that is worth putting on a show for!

You can find a write-up about the show here, and check out the video below for peak of opening night (a big, big thank-you to the folks over at Vandocument for both of these pieces):


– MP


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