The featured exhibit runs August 1 – 31, 2023 in Metro Gallery in the Garneau Theatre lobby.
Artist Reception: August 10 at 5:30PM.
Artist: Jeff Collins
Art that is meaningful for me, always perfectly reflects the person who made it. I can see their personality in every brushstroke, compositional decision, and every other aspect of the work. I think that those truly wonderful works of art, that affect the majority of us, are expressions of something from deep within the maker’s soul and most of the time they were probably not even aware of what was happening until they were finished. Perhaps then that is why when I make art that comes from that place deep inside of me I gain a little better understanding of who I am and how I fit into this world.
For many years I painted landscapes of places I’ve been to, and I’ve chosen my subject matter from the experiences I’ve had while in nature. When I first head off on a hike or other experience with nature, my senses are often over stimulated with all that is going on. The lights and shadows, colours, sounds, smells, everything I experience is hitting me all at once, but then suddenly it happens. I walk over a hill or around a corner or something, and all of a sudden the scene in front of me gives me awe and causes me to pause to take it all in. All of my senses seem to stimulate the same reaction in me all at once. Those are the scenes I choose to paint. The paintings that result from that experience are highly representational of the landscape in front of me but of course, with my own interpretation. Over the past couple of years I began exploring and experimenting new ways to communicate my experiences of the natural world.
I created stencils of plants and animals and other things, even a canoe to use as symbols. The grizzly bear is an animal that has come to me in my dreams ever since I was a small child. For me it symbolizes strength and power along with a little bit of the unknown or unpredictable. I chose the turtle to symbolize friendship and childlike curiosity (one of my first pets I had when I was a child was a turtle). The crow symbolizes a connection to the supernatural (divine) realm where I see the crow as a communicator from the divine to us and us to the divine. The canoe symbolizes my journey, both physically and spiritually, the textured background symbolizes the natural and organic physical realm, and the geometric shapes symbolizes a spiritual realm that is organized and has a planned design.
The works in this exhibition are a type of watershed moment for me when it comes to my career as an artist. I was very fortunate to receive an exploration grant from the Edmonton Art Council to assist me with developing this body of work and I anticipate that many of these paintings are at the beginning of a visual journey to express my experience of this natural realm. I look forward to what I will discover on this journey.
Jeff Collins is a visual artist with nearly 30 years of studio practice living and working in Edmonton. His formal studies were at Red Deer College (now known as Red Deer Polytechnic) and the University of Alberta. Collins has received many awards and recognition for his artwork, notably the Telus Courage to Innovate in the Arts and in 2013/14 he served as the City of Edmonton’s inaugural Artist in Residence. His paintings have sold nationally and internationally. In 2019 he opened Collins Studio Gallery in Alberta Avenue District (Edmonton, AB) where he presents exhibitions from emerging and established artists, hosts experimental music gigs from some of Edmonton’s most avant-guard musicians, and teaches art lessons. As an art educator and facilitator, he strives to connect people to art and creativity, encouraging skill-building, laughter, and personal growth.