‘Asta Sollilja of Summerhouses’ exhibit

My 1998 solo exhibit: Asta Sollilja of Summerhouses

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ONE OF THE PIECES FROM THE SHOW:

The House, 1998, Katarina Thorsen

It was a house and a stable in one.  All that was visible of the inner, wooden shell was the door and its frame, the door so small, the threshold so high that one had to stoop on entering.  Down in the stable it was cold and dark, the air sour with the smell of earth, the toadstools flabby, but when the trapdoor was lifted a faint gleam shone down from the loft.  There were mangers along the sides, and in the farther wall a gap just wide enough to allow access to a hay barn that Bjartur proposed building behind the house… – Halldor Laxness

Acrylic on Canvas

36″ x 48″

(Note the piece is made of two canvases, 24″ x 36″ each.  It is currently framed, with handmade cedar frame by Ralph Bowers- in frame measures 37″ x 49″)

In my private collection, Vancouver BC

The Book:

There is no more important novel to me than INDEPENDENT PEOPLE by Halldor Laxness (1902 – 1998), Icelandic novelist, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955.  I own several copies of the book.  Here is the dust jacket from my hardcover English edition (1946, Alfred A. Knopf, New York):

The exhibit:

The novel inspired a large exhibit in 1998 of multiple paintings, drawings and quilts.  These were exhibited at the beautiful Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, ironically just a month after Laxness’s passing.

Exhibit Synopsis:

In 1983, through my Scandinavian Literature class at the University of British Columbia (taught by my mentor Peter Stenberg), I was introduced to an extraordinary novel which forever embedded itself into my heart. I honestly didn’t know at the time how much it affected me, for my mind was cluttered with other university courses and accompanying distractions, but I did know that the book was very important, and indeed it was the one I have returned to again and again.

The novel is Independent People by Nobel prize winner Halldor Laxness, beautifully translated from Icelandic by J. A. Thompson, 1946, Borzoi Books, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. The novel was reissued in paperback by Vintage international, January 1997.

It is an epic tale of a farm family in rural Iceland around the time of World War I. The central character is a rough and self-proclaimed independent sheep farmer called Bjartur, who early on establishes his croft in which the epic and isolated events of his family are played out. Bjartur is the centre of the story, but the most striking character is his daughter Asta Sollilja. This lonely pubescent girl is the heart of the novel, embodying beauty, pity, tragedy; she is the face of Iceland. Her relationship with her father is awkward, heavy, yet extremely endearing.

At once inspired by the words of Halldor Laxness and my Scandinavian heritage, I chose to do a visual essay on Asta, an essay that should allow the viewer to understand the character without having read the book first, but to inspire them to read it. The paintings and the quilts in the exhibit are strictly my personal interpretation of Asta, focusing on emotion and relationships with other characters rather than specific themes. The quilts are an important feature of the exhibit, providing a visual and tactile commentary- on women’s hand work, the bed covering as protection, the bed where birth, dreams, rape, death occur.

Central quote to the exhibit: page 351

He did not know what to say in the face of such sorrow. He sat in silence by his sister’s side in the spring vendure, which was too young; and the hidden strings in his breast began to quiver, and to sound. This was the first time that he had ever looked into the labyrinth of the human soul. He was very far from understanding what he saw. But what was of more value, he felt and suffered with her. In years that were to come he relived this memory in song, in the most beautiful song the world has ever known. For the understanding in the soul’s defencelessness, of the conflict between two poles, is not the source of the greatest song. The source of the greatest song is sympathy. Sympathy with Asta Sollilja on earth.

Asta Sollilja, 1998 (donated to the Missing Women’s Legacy Society, 2002) 
Detail from Bjartur Quilt, 1998

Feedback:

I was honored to receive amazing feedback from the show.  I treasure this comment in particular:

 

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Williams Lake/ Punky Lake Summer 2016 Art Camp Diary- Part 6: the photographer

Recall:

Preview

Part 1: Preparation

Part 2: Travel

Part 3: Art Camp Day 1 

Part 4: Art Camp Day 2

Part 5: Art Camp Day 3

Part 6: Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society Summer 2016 Art Camp- the photographer

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What a treat it was to be joined by photographer Rick Magnell of Magnell Photography on Days 1 and 3!

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Rick Magnell.  Photo by Jana Roller

Contact: rmagnell@me.com

As this is a wheatpaste project developed from my initial obsession (that began in 2012) with the street artist JR…

I knew the Punky Lake project had to include photo portraits.  Rick was THE PERFECT PHOTOGRAPHER for this purpose!  He not only has a profound gift for the visual but also a demeanour that makes even the shyest participant at ease in front of the camera!

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He also has an ability to go with the flow!  It was only Day 1 and we were all just getting to know each other, but Rick managed to take EXTRAORDINARY portraits of the participants and support staff.  I am BLOWN AWAY by the beauty of these faces as captured by Rick.

I will let Rick explain:

Sarah Jackman from The Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society offered me the opportunity to photograph the Journey and Mind Mapping Art Camp with Kat Thorsen. My first task was to head out to the Old Training and Recreation Complex in Riske Creek and take portraits of all the youth and adults involved in the camp and have 8×10 prints made. The prints would then be cut out and become part of the mural project with in the gymnasium. Once I got there Kat had already got the group to all sketch pictures of raccoons and after lunch started teaching the group how to sketch anatomical hearts. These would all get incorporated in to the mural. Everyone was great, of course you get the few shy ones but we managed to get them in front of the camera.” – Rick Magnell

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Day 3 was where I brought out the 8×10’s to be wheatpasted on the mural and documented the rest of the day. The day concluded with a closing circle where everyone shared their thoughts about the art camp. Two of the youth were presented drums along with Kat who received a drum herself as thanks. Elder Gary finished the circle with a drumming song. Gary has some incredible stories, I did approach him to see if he would be interested in my Story project. Overall it was a great group and a great experience for myself to photograph. I appreciate the opportunity and it was great to meet Kat and everyone else involved in the project.” – Rick Magnell

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… the power of paper and glue… – JR

Thank you Rick for making the art camp extra-special!  I look forward to drawing all the participants from your photos! 

 

I want to thank and acknowledge the Toosey (Tl’esqox) and Tsihquot’in First Nations, Old School Training and Recreation Complex and Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society (Sarah Jackman, Samantha Dick, Bruce Baptiste, Ann Guichon) for hosting the Summer 2016 Art Camp. I also want to thank and acknowledge the elders, the chef, the photographer, the chaperones, youth workers and the participants!

Check out:

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Limited edition hand-embroidered print sale #graphicnovel

I am making available 10 hand-embroidered prints entitled Who is it that can tell me who I am? featuring an original image from my graphic novel, Molly.

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The print captures the moment a crow, the magician of the forest, adorned by a child’s skull as a crown, looks, with intense curiosity, into Lost Lagoon (Stanley Park).

The reflection in the pool features Jocelyn Louise as Molly. (Photographed by Rick Legal).

The imagery in the graphic novel will include drawing, embroidery, photography, collage.  Birds are often included to reflect the core theme/core value of the book: freedom.

   

“Crime Scene, 1947” (in progress)


To purchase a hand-embroidered numbered and signed print (measuring approximately 6″ x 8″):

Email transfer $28 CAD ($22 USD) to britakatarina@gmail (include your mailing address)

[Allow two weeks for delivery]

KING LEAR
Who is it that can tell me who I am?
FOOL
Lear’s shadow.

(William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.4.236-237)

My china marker portraits on @bypoststreet’s limited edition Winter Collection t-shirts!

The bypoststreet limited edition Winter collection t-shirts now available at bypoststreet.com!

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@bypoststreet features unisex luxury and sportswear inspired t-shirts designed by our creative director. Our eco-friendly luxurious bamboo/cotton cloth is milled in Canada and our t-shirts are designed and produced locally in Vancouver. Our collections feature limited edition portraits by our in-house artist. All our t-shirts are produced in fixed number impressions and are individually examined and hand-marked by our creative director with impression number.

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@bypoststreet celebrates influential personalities, leading artistic talent and street culture, and rides the new collaborative wave that combines art, music, fashion and social media. Their customers feel the excitement of anticipating and collecting the limited edition printed apparel and gain a sense of satisfaction from purchasing a product that is produced and manufactured locally. They embrace the guerilla marketing philosophy of free and accessible art to engage their customers who might never step foot in a gallery. @bypoststreet facilitates artistic expression through interactive art events and introduce new artistic talent to the customer.

WINTER COLLECTION:

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The Editor

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. – John C. Maxwell

An editor must have the heart and stomach of a monarch. An editor must be a team leader, ruthlessly curating editorial spreads and irreverently forecasting the future. The editor must epitomize style and blaze the trail while leading by example. @bypoststreet finds all these qualities and more in Emmanuelle Alt, the muse for The Editor t-shirt. 29 prints made, each t-shirt hand-marked with impression number.

BUY

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The Stylist

“Fashion endures, but style changes.” – Coco Chanel

Supplying, curating, envisioning, accessorizing is all part of the job of a stylist, but styling means more than planning videos and photoshoots, pinning to fit and steaming the garment. Styling is to hone the craft and to live the art; it is to exude confidence and style in every walk of life. @bypoststreet pays homage to the exquisite Carine Roitfeld with The Stylist limited edition print.  29 prints made, each t-shirt hand-marked with impression number.

BUY

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The Fashion Maniac

Taste every fruit of every tree in the garden at least once. It is an insult to creation not to experience it fully. Temperance is wickedness. – Stephen Fry

With @bypoststreet’s Collection 4 limited edition bamboo/cotton t-shirt, The Fashion Maniac, we throw out timidity by bowing to the trailblazers that change the face of fashion by breaking the rules. Take the cue, embrace your passion, try it all and thereby redefine yourself.  29 prints made, each t-shirt hand-marked with impression number featuring a portrait of the fashion maniac herself, Anna Dello Russo.

BUY

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The Fashion Icon

Clear your energy, honor your rhythm, live your vision. – George Denslow

We stand on the shoulders of giants that lead by example. With @bypoststreet’s Collection 4 limited edition bamboo/cotton t-shirt, The Fashion Icon, we embrace the elegance of our mentors and realize that their passion for free expression in turn inspires us to be our elegant selves. Miroslava Duma, president of Russua’s Buro247, is the portrait choice for the t-shirt.  29 prints made, each t-shirt hand-marked with impression number.

BUY

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The Beard

 Commitment is an act, not a word. – Jean Paul Sartre

A full beard takes commitment and in turn our hearts have fully committed to this trendy tended, virile, bushy garden of masculinity. Add some tattoos and we are done. Done. Celebrate the “barba” with @bypoststreet’s Collection 3 limited edition bamboo/cotton t-shirt, The Beard featuring a portrait of bearded model Ricki Hall.  33 prints made, each t-shirt hand-marked with impression number.

BUY

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Cara hair up 300 dpi
The Brows

Be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be. – Henry David Thoreau

The eyes may be the window to the soul, but our brows are the visual expression of our thoughts. A defiant angle, a raised surprise, a furrowed wrinkle, a reluctant horizon- our brows do not lie. Express your cocky self with @bypoststreet’s Collection 3 limited edition bamboo/cotton t-shirt, The Brows, featuring a portrait of model Cara Delevingne.  31 prints made, each t-shirt hand-marked with impression number.

BUY

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“Drawing on Pain” at Espana Gallery closing early due to protests from tenants.

UPDATE!

It as an interesting experiment to have “Drawing on Pain” exhibited in a lobby gallery. Experiment has to end early as some tenants are expressing concern over the subject matter and have asked that the show be taken down. Understood. Thank you, The Espana Gallery, for the opportunity while it lasted!

The show will end Sept 22.  I just received this message from the curator:

“Unfortunately, tomorrow I have to take your work down from the Espana. The manager has called me to say that a group of people are offended by the nudity, language , etc. And they won’t back off of him. One of these people is the strata council so they are really pressuring him. I have my own thoughts about this, but I don’t really have a choice at this point. I apologize.” 

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DRAWING ON PAIN exhibits my personal therapeutic process as I utilize art to help me process the difficult challenges I have encountered (and continue to encounter) in my life– such as divorce, cancer, my friends’ suicides, financial struggles and planning the road ahead.  I call myself a Kahloist and often find it healing to utilize the image of Frida Kahlo to express that internal pain for me.   By facilitating the need for self-expression through drawing, I lighten the load in my heart.

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Drawing is the honesty of the art. – Salvador Dali

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DRAWING ON PAIN Aug 29- Oct 13, 2013

ESPANA GALLERY

689 Abbott Street, Vancouver BC

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Unfold your wings as you fall. Drawing on Pain at Espana Gallery Aug 29-Oct 13

Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.
– Ray Bradbury 

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DRAWING ON PAIN Aug 29- Oct 13, 2013

ESPANA GALLERY

689 Abbott Street, Vancouver BC

Curator, sales manager: Angie Heintz 778 773 2861

infor@angieheintz.com

ARTIST’S STATEMENT:

“My painting carries with it the message of pain.” – Frida Kahlo

DRAWING ON PAIN exhibits my personal therapeutic process as I utilize art to help me process the difficult challenges I have encountered (and continue to encounter) in my life– such as divorce, cancer, my friends’ suicides, financial struggles and planning the road ahead.  I call myself a Kahloist and often find it healing to utilize the image of Frida Kahlo to express that internal pain for me.   By facilitating the need for self-expression through drawing, I lighten the load in my heart.

EXHIBIT LIST: DRAWING ON PAIN

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The show is up until Oct 13. at 689 Abbott street ( just buzz #7777 at the door anytime for entrance).

If you are interested in purchasing any of the work shown, please contact Angie Heintz at info@angieheintz.com or call 778.773.2861

Drawing on Pain at Espana Gallery Aug 29-Oct 13: exhibit list

A huge thank you to Angie Heintz and The Espana Gallery and to everyone who attended the August 29, 2013 opening. What a fabulous crowd! Thanks for listening so intently and for your support.

Thank you as well to those who provided interviews for the documentary FEAR NO ART w. Patti Henderson.

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You have all empowered me and I am so grateful for this opportunity!

ARTIST’S STATEMENT:

“My painting carries with it the message of pain.” – Frida Kahlo

DRAWING ON PAIN exhibits my personal therapeutic process as I utilize art to help me process the difficult challenges I have encountered (and continue to encounter) in my life– such as divorce, cancer, my friends’ suicides, financial struggles and planning the road ahead.  I call myself a Kahloist and often find it healing to utilize the image of Frida Kahlo to express that internal pain for me.   By facilitating the need for self-expression through drawing, I lighten the load in my heart.

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The show is up until Oct 13. at 689 Abbott street ( just buzz #7777 at the door anytime for entrance).

If you are interested in purchasing any of the work shown, please contact Angie Heintz at info@angieheintz.com or call 778.773.2861

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EXHIBIT LIST: DRAWING ON PAIN

“Fear No Art” Documentary. A 20 year inquisition w. filmmaker Patti Henderson

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I am so honored to be working with filmmaker Patti Henderson as we revisit a project started twenty years ago.

“Fear No Art” Documentary. A 20 year inquisition.

by Patti Henderson

FEAR NO ART

The documentary will address protests that occurred back in 1991 and my reflections on my art 20+ years later.  We are diving in now (with camera by Julian Bowers) and I LOVE working with Patti and witnessing her creative process.  We are comrades in the feverish need to create.

Patti Henderson
Patti Henderson

Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him. As a human being he/she may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is “man” in a higher sense— he is “collective man”— one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic forms of mankind.

― C.G. Jung

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For more on the protests go to:

20 years ago my art was protested

Post no bills: can free art change the world?

Stay tuned for NEXT STEPS!

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My grandfather’s school photo- it haunts me…

I am obsessed with this photo of my grandfather’s school class (Hudiksvall, Sweden).  He is in the top left.  I have drawn it over and over and painted it.  But something never allows me to finish.  I get as far as some of the girls, then the rest refuse a portrait.  I will try again sometime.  See what happens.  What are the students trying to tell me?

Interactive art and feedback from March 10th art event! Sharing time and space. #arttherapy

This event was born out of a conversation I had with my dear friend Diane Clement, who made me realize “YES, I CAN!”

What an evening of art and people supporting at-risk youth programs!  Here are photos of art created by participants in our mega-art therapy session!  I am also including feedback and my thank you’s below.

Host Rebecca working the room at the beautiful District 319 venue

In my art school (1980’s), teachers would not share their art work until the last day of the course so as not to influence us.  I have found that allowing people to be surrounded by my art and creative process seems to make people at ease and encourage self-expression.

If anything, tonight has made me, and others, want to get our paints and canvases out and just…do this. – Jocelyn Louise (March 10th art event)

ART STATIONS

Photo sources from Julia Kozlov, Jocelyn Louise, Jon Rawlinson, Jay Peachy, Rebecca Rawlinson, my own and others.  More photos to come!  Stay tuned!

1. I allowed people to work on some of my unfinished pieces.Here are some highlights.  Love it!

Dustin Jones, Jay Fisher

  UPDATE: GO TO A VERY PRIVATE PIECE FINISHED IN A PUBLIC WAY

 

Frida by Oliver McTavish Wisden

2. My friend Jay Peachy shared his art including painting on Fabricio Borges!  I encourage you to go to jay’s site and learn more about this extraordinary human!

Art is a means of survival. – Jay Peachy

Documentarian Janelle Cara Huopalainen is doing a film about Jay and captured the entire evening!  Thanks, Janelle!

3. Rebecca Rawlinson not only hosted the night and had her portrait done, but shared her gorgeous business cards (featuring her photography) which are collectors items!

4. In the centre of the room we arranged a large group canvas piece for people to paint on.  Magical!

Team Stomp (Jasmine, Sam, Hannah, Ashleigh) by Jasmine Schuett

By Oliver McTavish Wisden

By Oliver McTavish Wisden

Blue and white bird by Roz M

Orange cat by Salted Lion

 

By @selinastarr


5. Vancouver artist, photographer, activist Julia Kozlov did a pre-event interview and documented the night.  See her blog post: MARCH 10 / KAT THORSEN SHOW

6. AWE-INSPIRING filmmaker, photographer Jon Rawlinson documented the night!  See photos at Rebecca’s blog: KAT’S ART EVENT AT DISTRICT 319!!!

FEEDBACK:

I received some amazing feedback, and that certainly feels good!  But it’s not all about me- it’s about sharing time, space and art with you, my community!  Love you all!

Congratulations to Rebecca Bree Rawlinson and Kat Thorsen for hosting an amazing artistic experience. Best I’ve ever been to in Vancouver. I had an amazing time looking at all the work and being able to create my own. The food was fabulous, and the whole atmosphere was fun and beautiful. I can’t wait for future collaborations between you two.  My first Kat Thorsen event led me to being incredibly impressed, amazed and in awe of the whole experience. I have never been to an interactive art show – and it was fabulous. The atmosphered, layout, mediums to draw on, quality and variety of work exhibited were all though-out and done with full quality from a curating context. I am very excited for future events hosted by Rebecca Rawlinson x Kat Thorsen team. – Julia Kozlov

I am thrilled to live in a city, which offers programs such as Intersections Media. I wish more people knew that it existed so I’m doing my part to spread the news. – MC

Kat, that was incredible. So many people want to get their art supplies out. Me as well. – JL

Your show was amazing. It was nice to have you in the spotlight and not your amazing offspring. – CD

Finishing up at @katthorsen s art event! #amazeballs! #loveit! – HA

Looks like everyone is having a great time at @KatThorsen ‘s Art Show!! Yippee!! #prouddaughter – AT

@katthorsen love your passion for at risk students with your art dream, @shetoshic is completely supportive in any future work to help out!

At an amazing art event for @KatThorsen hosted by @RebeccaRaw wow!! What a wonderful display of incredible art!  Love it! – JR

What a great night last night !  The crowd, the food, the art work, the creativity, and event was really first class and enjoyable!  Kat- I’m proud of what you achieved last night….you put smiles on many peoples faces!  How rapidly you created the portrait painting left many of us in awe… – DA

What a FUN, MAGICAL NIGHT – [Kat] was AMAZING – the ‘instant’ picture of her friend and the friends paintings she unveiled – were SENSATIONAL – so REAL – they looked ALIVE. AND – her personal books of her work, and her many eclectic art pieces were unique.  She spoke so well and sincerely – she is a very special, warm, giving, talented young woman – D. and I have so much admiration for her and for [her two siblings] – Their mother is ‘beaming’ down at her “Mighty Trio” with pride! – Diane Clement

Pies para que los quiero, si tengo alas para volar (Frida) – CA

Amazing work! – RM

Fantastic! – CC

The amount of your own self you express in all your work is amazing.  You are a brilliant and revolutionary artist. – JK

Mamma skulle vara så glad i det här.  Fantastisk! – FT

What an amazing night you put on. My friends and I were so impressed by the venue, the set up and, mostly, your incredible talent. – IP

Thank you for everything I enjoyed myself so much. You are so awesome and thank you for sharing with us your time and energy. You have inspired me to want to do more with my life that is for sure. – DJ

Loved being there – you are awesome!!!!!! – LG

Wow, what an impressive night… congratulations, Kat! – BS

THANK YOU’S

My muses (Rebecca Rawlinson, Jocelyn Louise, Jay Fisher) and I thank you for an incredible experience. The first of many!

Thank you’s to:

– Diane Clement whose support and encouragement a few months ago led to this event and to Doug whose wisdom, talent and eye always inspires me.

District 319 (Dahel Cox, Lynn Vince, Miguel Gomez, Louis, Lazarro and all the staff and crew) for their incredible venue, generosity, set up and support!!!

Intersections Media (incl. Selina) and my brother Fredrik for their inspiring youth program, for all the support, and for supplying great atmosphere and videos!  Thank you little brother for all you do!

– Marcia Fordyce-Coons of Copper Alley Cafe for providing such gorgeous food!  A hit!

– Rebecca for making this night a success and whose support has changed my life.

– Rick for helping with the art, for his general loveliness and for supplying his van!

– My mentor DA for showing me new ways of looking at myself and for challenging me.

– Jay Peachy for making everything seem possible!  (and Star, one of the most beautiful dogs in the world).

– Jainy, Ashleigh, Jasmine, Sam, Hannah and Julian for making the evening run so smoothly (and thank you, Julian for the soundtrack!)

– Jocelyn and Jay for being so inspiring and allowing me such freedom (and Jay for my blond hair!)

– Fabricio for his participation, enthusiasm and beauty.

– Julia Kozlov for her support, her interview, her coverage of the event and her activism.

– The Rawlinson family for their generous support.

– To my entire extended family for EVERYTHING!

– TO ALL OF YOU who participated, donated and who supported youth programs by buying art!

Well, that was AMAZING!!  What a night!  Let’s do it all over again!!

– Rebecca Rawlinson


“The Housewife Howled” – My 1994 #journal part 1: PREFACE

Preface:

So here I sit about to embark on the great adventure: the writing of a book.  My book.  But where to begin?  Here, I suppose.  Just the intimate privacy of me, my hand, the pen and the paper.  There is no audience.  There are no readers- except my critical eye who has promised to critique only that which is not full-out expression.  To critique timidity, a superficial and parasitical “emotion” that loves to repress.


Who cares what all this bullshit is?  The question is, “Will it get expressed?”  I challenge myself to a duel, in hopes that the self-confident, egomaniacal creator wins over the tired little pleaser, who likes to make no waves.

What’s to become of all this spewing?  This writing of words?  This non-stop verbal vomit, this desperate plea for recognition and understanding?  And does a result matter?  I leave these questions to simmer in the recesses and hallways of my mind.  I know this won’t be pretty.  But it will be honest, and honesty is always beautiful.

– Katarina Thorsen, August 5, 1994, Vancouver BC Canada


Recalling my exhibit 1998 @thenordicmuseum- Ode to #Laxness #IcelandicLiterature

There is no more important novel to me than INDEPENDENT PEOPLE by Halldor Laxness (1902 – 1998), Icelandic novelist, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955.  I own several copies of the book.  Here is the dust jacket from my hardcover English edition (1946, Alfred A. Knopf, New York):

The novel inspired a large exhibit of multiple paintings, drawings and quilts.  These were exhibited at the beautiful Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, ironically just a month after Laxness’s passing.

My synopsis from the 1998 exhibit:

In 1983, through my Scandinavian Literature class at the University of British Columbia (taught by Peter Stenberg, now head of the Department of Germanic Studies), I was introduced to an extraordinary novel which forever embedded itself into my heart. I honestly didn’t know at the time how much it affected me, for my mind was cluttered with other university courses and accompanying distractions, but I did know that the book was very important, and indeed it was the one I have returned to again and again over the last 14 years.

The novel is Independent People by Nobel prize winner Halldor Laxness, beautifully translated from Icelandic by J. A. Thompson, 1946, Borzoi Books, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. The novel was reissued in paperback by Vintage international, January 1997.

It is an epic tale of a farm family in rural Iceland around the time of World War I. The central character is a rough and self-proclaimed independent sheep farmer called Bjartur, who early on establishes his croft in which the epic and isolated events of his family are played out. Bjartur is the central antagonist of the story, but the most striking character is his daughter Asta Sollilja. This lonely pubescent girl is the heart of the novel, embodying beauty, pity, tragedy; she is the face of Iceland. Her relationship with her father is awkward, heavy, yet extremely endearing.

At once inspired by the words of Halldor Laxness and my Scandinavian heritage, I chose to do a visual essay on Asta, an essay that should allow the viewer to understand the character without having read the book first, but to inspire them to read it. The paintings and the quilts in the exhibit are strictly my personal interpretation of Asta, focusing on emotion and relationships with other characters rather than specific themes. The quilts are an important feature of the exhibit, providing a visual and tactile commentary- on women’s hand work, the bed covering as protection, the bed where birth, dreams, rape, death occur.

Central quote to the exhibit: page 351 “He did not know what to say in the face of such sorrow. He sat in silence by his sister’s side in the spring vendure, which was too young; and the hidden strings in his breast began to quiver, and to sound. This was the first time that he had ever looked into the labyrinth of the human soul. He was very far from understanding what he saw. But what was of more value, he felt and suffered with her. In years that were to come he relived this memory in song, in the most beautiful song the world has ever known. For the understanding in the soul’s defencelessness, of the conflict between two poles, is not the source of the greatest song. The source of the greatest song is sympathy. Sympathy with Asta Sollilja on earth.”


I was honored to receive amazing feedback from the show.  This comment is one I treasure:

Some of the original pieces from my 1998 exhibit will be on sale at my March 1oth Art Event!

When art comes back to say hello, only to be released again. #honoring #missingwomen #artevent

I was honored to work with families and friends of the victims of Robert Pickton and of the missing women back in 2002/3.   I just reconnected with one family member who will be providing some of the pieces I originally donated to decorate a rehab centre in her sister’s honor.  The project has changed since then, and she asked if she could auction them off, but asked where.  So, serendipity strikes and the pieces will be in my silent-auction on March 10 with proceeds from these pieces going towards an ongoing quilting project in honor of the women (currently 300 quilts have been made).

 

“Sarah, I think of you” (in memory of Sarah deVries). Print of the original donated to Coquitlam RCMP Detachmen

Print and quilt a legacy to missing women-2002

 

This piece was originally exhibited at The Nordic Heritage Museum in my large solo show dedicated to the novel "Independent People" by Halldor Laxness. Post about this 1998 exhibit coming soon. This piece was to go into the rehab centre, but as the project has changed, it will be in my silent auction on March 10.
I was very moved by the story of Sarah deVries who not only looked like my daughter when she was a child but her energy, intelligence and spirit also reminded me of Anna.

Please visit Wayne Leng’s websites: MISSINGPEOPLE.NET and MISSINGWOMEN

Laundry day. Art from the vault.

You sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate, threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housekeeping. ~Rudyard Kipling

Acrylic on canvas (unframed)

Dedicated to my mother and all the women who came before me.

Pearl Hart, Wild West Woman. Portrait will be up for auction at my June 23 art event!

Years ago, I picked up the book The Old West- The Women, Time-Life, at a thrift store for 50¢.

What a gem.  I bought it during my Immigrant phase.  I kept coming back to the photos of Pearl Hart and did the following portrait– one of the paintings I actually haven’t given away, trashed, or let kids graffiti over.  So much of my stuff is dispersed in Canada, USA and Sweden, or painted over, or thrown out or burnt!  I am pretty ruthless and moody when it comes to my own art.

But this one will be up for auction at my June 23 art event.  It’s acrylic and charcoal on canvas and it’s approx 3′ x 5′ (canvas on frame).

Peral Hart was serving a five-year stretch in Arizona when these pictures… were taken of her…  In 1899 she held up the stage to Globe, netting $431 and a place in history as the last stagecoach bandit.