What’s Still Here, What Came Before Us is a collaborative exhibition between Nicole Young and Liz Ranney at the Lake Country Public Art Gallery. Each of the paintings and installations were worked on by both artists, and were direct responses to the lyrics of musician Leila Neverland.
Like all good exhibits, What’s Still Here, What Came Before Us started with a conversation over a cup of coffee. Liz Ranney and Nicole Young approached me two years ago to pitch their idea for an art exhibition in Lake Country. We sat outside and sipped coffee as Liz and Nicole shared their ideas, thoughts and vision. They wanted to do something that can make some artists shudder, including myself: Collaborate.
Painting can be an isolated endeavour. Artists spend weeks, months, and years on their self-imposed islands of creativity, narrowly focusing on their own ideas. For some artists, sharing this solitary experience can be intimidating. But Ranney and Young wanted to jump head first into it.
Art, like everything, cannot exist in vacuum. Paintings do not spring onto canvases fully formed without influences and inspirations. Society, politics, philosophy, culture, and a laundry list of other elements feed into art. Artists take the noise from the world and filter it into something striking, something bold, something that makes us think.
Ranney and Young have made that influence explicit with this exhibit. They used the lyrics from Leila Neverland to inspire their paintings. They plumbed the depths of another medium to create a unique vision for the gallery. Three artists, all with their individual experiences, talents, and perspectives, came together to build a unified series of paintings.
When you enter the gallery you happen upon a series of paintings, a wall “collage” and an installation in the back of the gallery. Each painting and installation is accompanied with a set of notes. A dialogue between the three artists is recorded…contemplation, reflection, questions, ideas and lists of colours are scribbled across sheets of paper.
As a viewer, you’re a collaborator. Gallery exhibitions create a relationship between you and the artist. You bring your own perspective and experience to bear when you study art. You define the meaning of each piece on your own terms. This exhibition is a celebration of how we all work together to discuss, debate, and build something new. In our daily lives, we’re all collaborators.
- Excerpts from the curatorial statement for the exhibition catalogue What’s Still Here, What Came Before Us, written in collaboration by Wanda Lock and Sean Mott.