The House the Spirit Builds
Coinciding with the Kingston WritersFest happening Sept. 25 to 29, Studio 22 is exhibiting a work that blends the visual and the literary arts.
The exhibit is titled The House the Spirit Builds, and is a combination of work by two photographers and one poet.
Photographers Peter Coffman, Carleton University professor in architectural history and Diane Laundy spent two years photographing Wintergreen, the Southeastern Ontario educational retreat centre, Wintergreen. They sent their work to poet Lorna Crozier, who then composed a series of poems inspired by the images in the photography duo’s work.
Crozier is the Head Chair of the writing department at the University of Victoria and has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-language Poetry.
She’s a featured author at the Kingston WritersFest this year where she’s talking about her new book by the same title as this series: The House the Spirit Builds.
Wintergreen offers people outdoor educational opportunities, where they teach about sustainability and mindful living. They prioritize off-the-grid living and a return to nature. At the retreat centre, participants can also enroll in workshops where they’re taught art and literature.
“The photographs ended up being a gateway for the poet into the environment,” Ally Jacob, owner of Studio 22, said about the exhibit.
In the exhibit, there are 10 pieces. In each one, there’s a combination of all three artists’ work.
Coffman and Laundy, however, didn’t identify which of the photos were each of theirs. They instead share credit for all of them.
The photographers, in their two years photographing the retreat centre, focused their work on the natural elements of the centre. Their photos show how the centre is intertwined with nature, rather than being distinct from it.
The exhibit centres around simplicity and enjoying a life without excess.
Coffman and Laundy’s photo subjects include streams, animals on the property, and trees. The simplicity of their subjects complement the fluidity of Crozier’s poetry. In “In the Country,” the poet uses three lined stanzas to talk about the rural scene.
The artwork reflects the lifestyle at Wintergreen—grounded in nature and rejecting unnecessary grandeur.
The Concert Series
Upstairs, Studio 22 exhibits the work of Evelyn Rapin, whose work can regularly be seen at the gallery.
Rapin’s The Concert Series was inspired by a concert she attended at The Isabel Bader Centre while sitting in the front row in 2017.
The concert was of music written by Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich, who taught music composition at Queen’s from 1991 to 2010.
After attending the concert, Rapin was so moved by seeing the performance up close that she immediately started work on this series.
Her series uses multiple forms of media: there are drawings on paper, which show the first stages of the artist’s process. These are followed by her paintings on 40-by-40-inch panels, and finally shown are the mixed media works.
One of the painted panels consists of three individual panels painted to complete one work—a triptych.
“Sometimes you’ll see things that look like soundwaves, so you get a lot of the musical influence,” said Jacob. “They’re her response to the concert.”
After completing the series, Rapin sent images of her work to American writer James Balestrieri, who has previously written about music and art and their effects on one another.
Rapin asked the writer to write about her series and use what he knew based on his past writing, to investigate her pieces. Jacob said that Balestrieri far exceeded Rapin’s expectations and wrote a long, complimentary piece about her work.
This series’ evolution shows the power of artistic inspiration and the effect of art on the individual.
“It became very much […] his reaction to her artwork based on the concert. There’s various levels of people responding artisticly to somebody else’s artistic creation,” said Jacob.
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