Making the ordinary extraordinary

Profile of fourth-year fine art student Iris Fryer

Fryer pictured with an untitled piece she painted last semester.
Fryer pictured with an untitled piece she painted last semester.
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Fine art student Iris Fryer paints to transform mundane, everyday experiences into wistful, thought-provoking ones.

The artist is in her fourth year, and although she has dabbled in printmaking and sculpting, painting is her speciality.

“[Painting] really allows you to use a whole lot of different styles, and it allows you to paint things that just are unreal,” Fryer said. “With sculpture, you’re kind of limited a little bit in space, but I find with painting you can create whatever imagery you want.”

Fryer is originally from Bradford, Ont., and draws much of her inspiration for her work from both her hometown and Kingston.

“I’m really interested in capturing that feeling of travelling and sort of being at home, but not being at home,” Fryer said. “I use the term ‘lost and found’ a lot to describe my paintings.”

The artist also uses the term “itinerant” to give meaning to her paintings, using the idea of moving from place to place and essentially being a wanderer.

Fryer’s paintings have a common theme. Looking around at them, one instantly feels at ease, and is almost transported to a time of travel. The colours used are dark and inviting, while the landscape of the pieces focuses on the actual act of travelling, whether it be by train or car.

They evoke feelings of nostalgia, and are strangely calming to look at.

“When I’m on the Megabus doing that long stretch on the 401, I find that it’s a very interesting phenomenon to be surrounded by people but not engaging with them at all.

“So you have these individual travellers, who are very introspective — you don’t know what they’re thinking,” she said. “And you’re sharing a space, but you’re not really sharing anything else with them.” The artist likes to capture moments that are atmospheric — rather than political — in her work, she said.

Fryer focuses on parts of life that can perhaps seem monotonous at first, such as going to and from school via train, and painting them in such a way that they are new and inspiring.

“I’m much more interested in sort of a championing of the mundane,” she said. “So instead of typically beautiful things — like landmarks that you always see paintings of — I like to take simple scenes and experiences and take them into the realm of fine art.”

Although Fryer only began painting regularly in her first year at Queen’s, she picked it up quickly and saw all sorts of potential in it.

“I sort of just fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s very easy to get very layered and you can use whatever colour you pick up, and whatever paint treatments you want to create a photorealistic painting, or an abstract one.”

After she graduates this year, the artist hopes to continue painting while pursuing a Master’s degree in the fine arts.

This semester, Fryer said, she plans on putting a new spin on her paintings and will aim to create works that are less photorealistic.

“I’m trying to push the boundaries of what can be considered beautiful,” she said.

Fryer will be presenting her work as part of a speaker series for the Ban Righ Centre on Feb. 12.

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