The opening date is approaching for ‘to have & to hold – the physical book: more than a quaint tradition’ an exhibition by Penny Parry at the Craft Council of BC Gallery October 14th – November 17th, 2016. In the lead up to to this exhibition we asked Parry some questions to find out more about her art practice and inspirations.
Tell us about your journey as an artist.
While I have had many iterations of myself over the years – youth and family worker, university professor, psychologist, city child and youth advocate, and finally artist…All of these are tied together by my curiosity about people – who we are, how we struggle, how we overcome. In the last few years, my curiosity has focused on our culture’s move to the virtual. In particular, I am concerned that we will ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’, i.e. we will fail to understand the experiences we leave behind as we embrace the virtual – and the possible impact on our basic human nature that losing these experiences might have. Will our attitudes to caring for each other, to allowing time for daydreaming and the creative thought it can produce etc. change so we are beings out-of-balance – all logic and efficiency with very little emotion and time to breathe? In my art, I enjoy and value the creative part – and then I struggle with the technique. But even this struggle satisfies my curiosity. O, and I have had a wonderful obsession with Alice in Wonderland since I can remember. The story has colored whatever work I have been doing.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I can’t say there was one inspiration – I just always wanted to make art but it seemed impractical. When I finished high school, I applied and was accepted to the Ontario College of Art but at the same time received a scholarship which would cover first year at the local university. As money was tight, I went for the free tuition and thus began my journey into a less artistic path. When I decided to retire from active social service work, I decided to go to art school – so I did – went to Emily Carr and had a wonderful 4 years. That’s it.
What emotional response do people have when they view your work or hold it in their hands?
Usually they are surprised as they see a different side of me. These are folks who know me from my work in social service work, politics and advocacy. After that, a common reaction seems to be that my work is emotional and makes them think.
What do you do when you are not creating?
I continue to be involved in social service [e.g. Family and youth programs locally and provincially] on a volunteer basis. Periodically I write for a child and youth journal, some community volunteer work in supporting the arts e.g. Former chair and board member of CCBC – now informal support, some municipal politics e.g. Member of the executive of COPE [Coalition of Progressive Electors- a municipal political party], and learning to play the harp.
‘to have & to hold – the physical book: more than a quaint tradition’ an exhibition by Penny Parry runs October 14th, 2016 – November 17th, 2016
Opening Talk: Friday, October 14th, 6-7 pm @ 1318 Cartwright St, Falsecreek Community Centre
Exhibition opening: Friday, October 14th, 7-9pm @ 1386 Cartwright St, Craft Council of BC