Maryanne Wettlaufer CONNECTEDREALM
Maryanne Wettlaufer CONNECTEDREALM April 17-July 17-2021
My journey towards CONNECTED REALM began while standing in the middle of my last exhibit entitled Haida Gwaii - Brushing The Surface. It was opening night at the Museum of Northern BC in June 2019 and while I was relieved to be finally showcasing the new works I was overwhelmed with an interesting thought, “How, after 14 years of calling Haida Gwaii home could I still be “brushing the surface”? In this moment CONNECTED REALM was born.
For me, Haida Gwaii epitomizes nature - wild and wondrous, big and beautiful, beguiling, even frightening, but ever alluring. Here I can count on nature literally reaching out and touching me, engaging all of my senses, rooting me firmly in the moment, leaving me vulnerable and open to being emotionally charged by my surroundings. My paintings are expressions of my reaction to a scene or place, designed to be representational enough to allow the viewer to go on their own journey to that specific place.
With CONNECTED REALM I wanted to expand upon my personal connection with nature to include a dialogue or collective community consciousness. Some of the very basic questions I wanted to ask - what is your connection to Haida Gwaii? How did you come to call this home? Did you take a job here and decide to stay? Has your family lived here time immemorial? Perhaps a family vacation left you “hooked”? Or maybe you fell in love and moved here to be with that special someone?
As it turns out 2020 wasn’t the best year to embark on a project that included a plan to interact with or engage random community members. In March last year when the COVID19 pandemic was proclaimed by the World Health Organization there was a part of me that felt relieved with regards to my project. Humanity was advised to social distance and my introverted self instantly had the best excuse ever not to approach and talk to people. In a way the pandemic made my solitary adventurous behavior feel even more normal than usual. After a few weeks of fumbling with the unknown I decided to carry on with my solitary painting adventures fully committed to producing a solo exhibition for 2021.
What happened in the coming months blew my mind! On my solo painting adventures I kept bumping into random people from all of the island communities, often in very remote places. It turned out that because of the pandemic residents had both time and the emotional need to reconnect with nature. In this outdoor setting I had casual conversations about what it meant to be connected to Haida Gwaii and how important it was to feel part of a community now more than ever. These candid, fluid conversations could not have happened under any other circumstance and the paintings in this exhibit encapsulate some of the ideations that came about as a direct result of these chance encounters with island residents.
Regardless of your Haida Gwaii story, I think we can all agree, after a year of living through the COVID19 pandemic we have all had a chance to personally reflect upon our individual and collective connectedness to Haida Gwaii. We took care of each other and Haida Gwaii took care of us. Haida Gwaii truly is supernatural and we are all lucky to be part of this CONNECTED REALM.