Alice Vandervennen

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Assembled secrets

Posted by on Mar 23, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

Spring clean up means cleaning out the bird houses. There’s a sweet sadness to see the eggs left, wondering why they were abandoned last summer. The two little eggs give hints of the wren building a nest, working with what’s at hand — including a blue thread, woven deep in the warmth of it. It was the summer of 2020 and the birds of the field didn’t notice there was a pandemic, but like them, so many of us were making do with what was close to home. I gave an online workshop, built with the promise that anyone could join in using anything they had; no need to leave the house for supplies. Finding myself close to home rather than travelling to art shows all summer, I dug into experimenting with wild material and land art with my friend Leslie, weaving grape vines into globes. It’s what we do as artists, right? Working with what we have. Layers on layers. There’s mystery to it...

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Footprints in the snow

Posted by on Mar 17, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

In winter when snow lays thick on the ground, the simple line of a tree can create a striking contrast to the white ground. Or the harvested corn leaving patterned traces in the fields. The shape of the flying geese overhead. Chipmunk tracks in the snow. These fleeting images seem to lodge themselves in our minds, and while they may not amount to something concrete enough to be called inspiration or idea, I often find that they do find a home in the final art piece. I realized that especially once I finished this piece, called “Ice Fields,” where the pattern of the stitches echo all those little patterns that we find in nature. The clear quartz hearkening to the frozen lake. Where hints of colour take on an extraordinary amount of importance in what some might call a colourless landscape. Though I’ve just finished this piece in the late winter of 2021, I painted the acrylic on canvas on a campsite in northern Ontario back in August. While it was drying, a chipmunk ran through the wet paint. As I’m layering the paint on canvas, I like to do lines of script. In this piece, I had just added a yellow line when a chipmunk ran through it, adding their own line of script to the painting. I left it, for I was curious to see how these marks, these actual marks of nature’s, would find their way into an art piece. I wondered: where would these footprints travel...

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Savouring the shadows

Posted by on Mar 10, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

Recently, after a Sunday afternoon skate, I posted to my Facebook page (do you follow along there?) I wrote: “March sun, shadows stretching. Though nearly finished, the ice still holds the secret movements of the snowshoe hare, followed close behind by coyote. A lively ecosystem working together, like an art piece — each colour working together, shape taking on the shadow in another form. Despite the less-than-smooth surface, I love how skating over these traces tells a narrative that belongs only to winter.” Looking at these tracks, these stories in the snow, you get a sense of both how fragile, and yet how strong, the whole ecosystem is. One thing really depends on another, and that strength is found in weaving together those parts into the whole. I find the same with art. In creating a piece of art, if you change one detail—even though it might seem an insignificant little detail— the whole piece has changed. I find inspiration from nature, but I learn from it too; from the limits and edges that are simply part of the way life is. Branches and trees seem to dance in sunlight, the shadow lines intersect and weave together, creating something real, for a moment, as the sun shifts. Sometimes what nature has to offer is a lesson in appreciating the unattainable: those beautiful, impermanent visions that the human artist can only store away and...

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It’s never a straight line

Posted by on Mar 3, 2021 in 2008 and prior Selected, Blog | 0 comments

  In winter, my favourite season, skating helps me think and gather ideas. Out here on the frozen bay at Presqu’ile, with a view made of nothing but shadow and light, shapes and line, my thoughts turn to my latest work in progress — a most exciting sculptural prototype. I studied sculpture in my undergrad and loved it then, and have continued to love it. I’ve allowed my work to take on a three dimensional form, but it’s not until this winter that I truly revisited this love of sculpture. It required math and figuring, design and research. Playing with the shadows that happen in sculpture. In the stillness of Covid time and the quietness of the winter, it was wonderful to push those thoughts and tentative designs and reoccurring dreams to this plywood prototype, which will ultimately be created with aluminum and copper. While like so many other creative attempts, it can be a huge, huge learning curve, the process has also been exhilarating and energizing. I’ve relied on expertise and help from friends who know more about wind power and force and curvatures than I. Perhaps it takes a village to raise a sculpture. I’m confident that this piece is going to be spectacular at its new home on the shores of Lake Huron, where perhaps one winter day, someone will glance up from the curve left behind their skates on that frozen Great Lake, and see a familiar...

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