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March 4 - April 15 Free
DIVINING, an immersive work by Kelsey Stephenson, surrounds us with inky water drops upon loose paper that asks us to draw connections between water, place and self.
Time passing generates the history and identity associated with place. My mark-making process is intended to make the work, like landscape, feel as though it has existed for millennia. Drops from pools of inky water, and traces of where it evaporated remain, leaving patterning and reticulation. These remnants fascinate me. They resemble waters’ passage through the world in the form of rivers and streams. Searching out and tracing these marks in order to divine their history references water as a source of my inspiration in this work. There is a duality to water’s presence, as well as constant motion. Northern ice, soil erosion or storms may be unsettling, even dangerous, but one cannot live without water. My experience of the Drumheller badlands in Alberta, the inspiration for many of these images, is as a place where the direct effect of water’s impact on the surrounding landscape can be felt.
As our bodies enter the landscape of the gallery, the fragile paper is disturbed, making it move and rustle. The papers along the wall exist at the intersection of multiplicity and originality. Combined, they present as a single piece, as though seeing an aerial view of landscape, or the division of a survey map. My work functions as both whole and fragment, exposing its vulnerability to disruption. A rupture in the illusion of wholeness occurs where we can see the edges of the papers, revealing movement. The fragility of the material and its constant motion references transience, both of landscape and of the viewer’s relationship with it. This begins to reference my own experience of place as a series of multiple, fragmentary, subjective moments, or even as longing for those places. It also questions how we equate bodies and landscape as each touches on and interacts with the other. As one moves about the space, much like water running in its course, the work disconnects from the whole, and is experienced as a series of fragmentary moments. I consider this work to be a creation of such moments brought together in one place, informed by thoughts of desire, longing, and a search for completion.
This body of surrounding work, and solo exhibition examines our dual relationship with place, which is embedded deeply in our experiences, and the process of searching for identity within that framework. At the same time, the process of human beings passing time within a place also inevitably changes the place itself; each receives an impression of the other. Much how water subtly changes a location, human beings continually interact with the places they live, and both are inexorably transformed. Contrasts occur between inner and outer, self and place. An emotional landscape grows, attached to a specific space. My work draws on connections to places meaningful to myself, searching for how place has created an impact. For me, seeking to understand place is also a way of gaining insight and understanding into those who live within that context.