Artist Rachel MacFarlane says each painting is a rebuilt memory from landscape sites visited
Barrie’s downtown art gallery is hoping to have a little something for everyone this winter.
The winter cycle of exhibitions at the MacLaren Art Centre, which opens to the public on Saturday from 2-4 p.m., will include two exhibitions from the permanent collection, and two others featuring the work of contemporary artists Rachel MacFarlane and Francisco-Fernando Granados.
MacFarlane’s exhibit, titled Broken Images, Where the Sun Beats, includes 19 paintings — all of which were created over the last year and a half and are related to research trips the artist took to New Orleans, Arizona and Newfoundland.
“I went out on these excursions… and it was always my intention to go to these sites and then come back to the studio and build models that would try to rebuild the memories of the places I visited,” she said.
Each painting is a rebuilt memory from one of the landscape sites that she had visited.
“COVID made that extra layer of being really removed from visiting any of these landscape sites and (it became) really insular. The process of rebuilding landscapes from afar or from an urban space, because I live in New York, the meaning really built a little bit more,” MacFarlane said.
In the studio, MacFarlane said she typically works with collage paper and creates postcard-sized boxes to start, as well focusing on lighting and trying to replicate the particular time of day, weather, cloud formations, et cetera, that she experienced while at the site.
“(I want) to get back to a certain moment in the landscape. It’s not just about trying to get a likeness of the place, but also a feeling of a moment in the landscape,” MacFarlane said.
Friday was the first time MacFarlane saw all the pieces together and lit, noting it was great to see them all back together again.
“My studio is pretty small and to bring them all out again and talk to one another… and to see what it’s like to bring divergent spaces together (is great). They’re all about really different landscapes and that’s a more contemporary experience,” she said.
“I was so worried it might not work, but I hope that it does.”
Also featured in the winter exhibits is Anchor Point and is a yearlong community-based curatorial project featuring work from the permanent collection.
The evolving exhibition series will “reveal insights into the MacLaren’s permanent collection and bring a broad range of contemporary and community voices into dialogue with historical and contemporary art and traditional collecting practices.”
Granados’ Wind Rose is the first exhibition in the Anchor Point series. A wind rose is a tool used to navigate the many directions and intensities of the wind at a particular location on a map and is used to map the way forward within a changing and unpredictable environment.
The evolving exhibit is definitely a different direction for a gallery to take, but they are excited to see it come to fruition, according to the gallery’s executive director, Lisa Daniels.
“We built new walls to create new space for different works and different voices to be welcomed into the gallery, and we will see over the course of the year how that (comes about),” Daniels said.
Visitors will have the opportunity to watch the exhibition evolve as the community “considers, selects and debates” its choices together. They’re also invited to offer opinions on the strengths and the weaknesses of the permanent collection as gallery officials map their way forward.
The MacLaren Art Centre is located at 37 Mulcaster St., across from Barrie City Hall.