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3 female artists come together for ‘Figuration and Abstraction’ at Chilliwack art gallery

Artwork by Jeannette Bittman, Karen Ireland, Mary-Lee Merz on display at Chilliwack Cultural Centre
Works by Karen Ireland (left), Jeannette Bittman (right) and Mary-Lee Merz (not pictured) are on display at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre until May 14. (Submitted)

Three female artists have come together for Figuration and Abstraction, an exhibition now on display at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre.

It is presented by the Chilliwack Visual Artists Association and is a “strong, three-female exhibit,” said a member of the association.

“The imagination is integrative. Our brains begin to coalesce towards calm and creative insight as we age. Then the left/practical and right/creative can freely communicate. Jeannette Bittman, Karen Ireland and Mary-Lee Merz express this integration as they explore figuration and abstraction through painting, printmaking, clay, glass, and mixed media.”

The show opened on April 6 and runs until May 14 at the O’Connor Group Art Gallery.

Bittman, a psychologist, is fascinated with human emotion as expressed in language. As an artist, she is intrigued with the representation of emotion through geometry and colour. Her art, drawings, paintings and sculptures, focus on how the figure can represent feelings through the use of colosr, light, line, and mark-making. Paradoxically, often the meaning is in the spaces and shadows surrounding the figure.

Ireland is currently obsessed with portrait-painting-backwards-on-glass. In this practice, she seeks to reflect the character of a model through the unpredictability of the paint being applied on the opposite side of the glass and is ultimately fascinated by both front and back images. Her current preoccupation with this process has not negated her historical addiction to 3D experimentation with found objects often used in concert with warm glass.

Merz is by profession an educator and by choice an artist. Her observations of movement, pattern, colour, and shape in nature inform her drawings, ecoprints and paintings. There is a ‘natural’ vocabulary that emerges through the process of observation and using this information, Merz explores all possibilities. The result is her detailed drawings and paintings that express both figuration and abstraction.

Figuration and Abstraction by Jeannette Bittman, Karen Ireland and Mary-Lee Merz is on display April 6 to May 14 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, plus some evenings during show times. Admission is free.

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