Karen Ward, the artist behind Small Worlds. Photo by Peter Bracking.
It isn’t just one small world, it’s a plethora of Small Worlds presented by Downtown Eastside artist Karen Ward in her new show that opened May 9 at Gallery Gachet, where she spent the day with glue-covered hands, madly hanging her work.
Ward’s pieces of found sculpture need to be seen in order to be experienced fully—as this writer says, words barely work. How can it be explained that Ward's piece, titled “Single Resident Occupancy,” looks enough like my own tiny room to call it home, even to the detail of intermittent electricity? The work seems to ask, who is that man? Could it be you? Another piece, “Time Out,” hangs twisting, twisting, following conversations. The piece also features a hanging key, a possible symbol of the key to time. You have to see to be sure.
“Part of what I hope to do here is engage with you in some complexity and contradiction ... the lines I walk between belonging and alienation,” Ward writes in her artist statement for Small Worlds. I see the sentiment reflected in “Mad,” a staircase of pink pills and tiny figures forever staring at each other, and in “Digital Divide.”
Ward has had a long career moving through written, spoken, painted and photographed art. “I walk, walk wherever I go, never the same way twice, and find things,” she said. “The world has given me this thing and making the piece is a way of giving it back.”
When asked where the pieces come from, she explained, “The found object creates the idea.”
“Art is good for the brain,” she said in a roundtable discussion, adding that, importantly, “Everyone is the artist and the artist is good for society.”
Small Worlds runs at Gallery Gachet until June 2. The gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday,12-6pm. For details, write to [email protected].
Peter is a member of Community Journalism 101, an introductory journalism course at SFU Woodward's that grew out of a partnership between Megaphone and the SFU Woodward's community engagement office. Peter wrote this piece after attending his first community journalism class in May.