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It has been a while since I posted on my art blog. There are reasons:

Reason # 1. Gardening: It is the Mother-Nature-Imperative time of year. If I don’t get those seeds into the ground, there will be no vegetables to harvest in the fall! I follow in the gardening path of my pioneer prairie women ancestors.

Here is my cousin Shawne (L) and my Mom Doreen (R) having a lovely picnic in front of a prairie garden. I’ll have to ask Mom but I’m pretty sure that is not our farmstead. Mom still has the vinegar dispenser that can be seen on the far left side of the table. It also looks like she is holding a gopher!

Shawne and Doreen

Reason #2. The prosaic side of art: Most recently, I have been writing grant and gallery submissions for art exhibits. The paperwork and number of hours required for the behind the scenes aspects of art can consume a considerable amount of time and creative energy. It is actually a similar activity to planting seeds in the garden in spring. If you don’t do the hard, less exciting work earlier on, you will not harvest the subsequent gratifying results.

On the down side, unfavourable growing conditions of all kinds can prevent the art harvest from coming to fruition. It can be discouraging. But at other times, all of the hard work pays off when the artist harvests a nice big crop of acceptance and maybe even some money! (Cue heroic music).

I will continue to work on my pioneer prairie women series, but in the meantime some other themes and opportunities have presented themselves. 

Art that is related to the fields of healing and medicine has been an interest of mine for many years. My friend, Dr. Chris Westbury, and I collaborated in 2012 on the premiere InSight: Visualizing Health Humanities exhibit. By way of basic explanation, I created a Victorian Cabinet of Medical Curiosities and Chris developed a computer generated language program that offered visitors bogus medical advice, accessed on a computer screen in the cabinet.

WymanWestbury#1 - photo by To Be In Pictures - Copy

Serpens Oleum: The Phantasmagoric Amphigorium of Dr. Wybury in InSight: Visualizing Health Humanities exhibit, Fine Arts Building Gallery, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta. Computer monitor and mixed media, 102″H X 53″W X 23″D, 2012.

Further to InSight 1, I am happy to announce another art harvest: Chris and I were accepted into the second InSight exhibit for our interactive artwork titled Take A Leaf From My Book. The exhibit, InSight2: Engaging the Health Humanities, is up from May 14, to June 8, 2013 at the Fine Arts Building (FAB) Gallery, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.


To quote from the InSight2 website:

InSight 2 is an international exhibition at the nexus of design, the health humanities and community. This exhibition explores how we can engage the health humanities to help us work collaboratively across disciplines and communities, to imagine and design innovative and transformative processes, communications, products, environments, services and experiences that can help to promote our health and well-being.

I must admit that most of the credit for the hard work on the collaboration this year goes to Chris. I really just tagged along by creating a painting inspired by his text. Chris is an Associate Professor at the U of A in the Department of Psychology. He is both a brainy and creative man, and his first novel will be published in 2014. Chris’s neurological research is language based, and he likes to play with language too.

For Take A Leaf From My Book, Chris developed a random computer based language program that created 1000 pages of art descriptions/instructions. In the spirit of art therapy, visitors to the gallery can remove a page to take home and create their own artwork.


Take A Leaf From My Book: art installation by Chris Westbury and Marlena Wyman in InSight2 art exhibit, Fine Arts Building Gallery, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

I removed one page from one of the volumes and created a painting for the exhibit. The page that I chose reads:

Leaf 369: Screw a glassy fire brick heart to a black navy haze. The haze and the color navy are both symbols of darkness. Symbolically, the heart is a descendent of your cerebral cortex, while the haze is a present reminder of the early Dadaists.
Together they are complex and destabilizing. Having them both together reminds us of why we need to be kind and not render our loved ones insane. This piece will remind you to appreciate your heart.

Leaf 369 Appreciate Your Heart

Leaf 369: Appreciate Your Heart by Marlena Wyman. Encaustic, image transfer,                        and mixed media on birch panel, 24” X 12”, 2013.

I chose this page because hearts have always held an intrigue for me, both symbolically, spiritually and anatomically. I also agree that we need to be kind and not render our loved ones insane, and it is good to appreciate our hearts.

InSight2 also includes a publication and website (which will include exhibitors’ works), a symposium, and a collaborative community project and course.

The opening reception is Thursday May 23rd at FAB Gallery at the U of A and is open to the public. There are many intriguing art and health related concepts in this exhibit. It is well worth a visit, so come on out – it will be good for your health!

Posted by Marlena Wyman