Folklore and legend are entangled and twisted; one climbs upon the other like vines on a trellis, each stretching to reach the sun and flourish. Lore itself flourishes when stories are whispered behind curtains and around crackling fires. When children pull covers up to their chins, eyes aglow, legends permeate little minds and each story gains strength. The tales are handed down, passed along in the great relay of life, and like wood worn by the sea, they transform into new shapes. The folktales and legends that survive the tests of time are often the tales of heroes and villains. Our heroes are bold and brave, fierce, and powerful, absorbing the self. We see ourselves in the protagonist, making the villains, the monsters, the grotesque obstacle into the other.

So often the heroes of tales have been the courageous, valiant masculine characters whose foes are the monstrous other; often deformed, demonized, feminized. What is it about the feminized body and the female presenting persona that evokes terror and disgust? What becomes of her when we seek to connect with her monstrosity?. The artworks in this exhibition seek to examine the feminized body as monster in fable, folklore, and literature.

Curated by Jamie-Lee Cormier, Curator/Manager of Travelling Exhibitions Northwest


Feature image: Carolyn Gerk, TIAMET, 2022, Linocut and watercolor on paper, Collection of the artist

Featured Artists

Carolyn Gerk

Artist Statement 

I am a self taught artist and mother living on Treaty 8 land. I work in a variety of physical mediums, including watercolor, ink, linocut and mixed media fiber arts. My work focuses largely on feminism, social issues, literature, film and the natural world.

My artwork evokes a sense of movement and freedom, with wild splashes of color and twisting lines. Figures are encompassed by swirling, loose colors and vibrant pools, and feature examinations of how beauty and horror intersect.

When working with lino carvings, I aim for bold lines contrasting small details, and a sense of fluidity and motion. I adore the richness that comes with a well carved piece; not to mention the satisfaction of working steadily and slowly.  When it comes to creating, I work quickly and almost fervently, motivated by a concept or an idea that I can hardly wait to see fulfilled. Linocut carving requires me to slow down and be patient with the process.

A student at heart, I research many of my works before creating them, to study theories and concepts, to ensure the statements made through my work are fully formed. I use many online and print text resources to create my pieces.

As a rural, northern artist, it can be a challenge to find avenues for artistic efforts. Living and working in an area with limited options for displaying and promoting artwork and difficulty with accessing supplies are notable obstacles. I am active in working with my local library, which is a helpful way to keep in touch with arts and culture programming. Recently, I’ve joined the Peace River Art Club, and am eager to work with local artists in the future. In 2022, I led several youth focused printmaking sessions in my community, and am working to offer more streamlined instructional sessions in 2023.  I utilize a good deal of online networking to expand my work and my business. Through these connections, I have joined a collective of creatives who are committed to donating a percentage of sales to charity on a monthly basis. I am passionate about donating to causes that promote social justice and women’s rights.

Motherhood also factors greatly into my work. I work from home and, until recently, homeschooled my two children. I often find myself using my knowledge of art and artists to create engaging programming and curriculum. The two jobs, parenting and creating, are deeply entangled, and one often feeds the other.

My studio is merely a corner of my living room, surrounded by noise, mess and love. I am deeply dedicated to my work and rarely have a day when I don’t create something. Creating is my work and my passion, and I am tremendously grateful for it.

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