In: Qualicum Beach
Tangible Stories | Leslie Love exhibition at The Old School HouseSeptember 27, 2023
Tangible Stories | Leslie Love exhibition at The Old School House
I run a medium sized arts institution in a century old building, in the oldest postal code in Canada, in a sleepy town with one set of stoplights, where Leslie Weigand Love presents Tangible Stories, an exhibition that alchemizes grief.
With such a direct and forthright conversation about life, and all the characters that weave in and out of the artists narrative, Tangible Stories bring us a capacity to understand how we can move grief : that cheese-grater heart feeling – the learning of a self anew without that physical presence of one who has passed, by drawing close the echoes of community and intergenerationality. A show created in conjunction with her deceased father, Love shows us a knowing of proximity that moves beyond death while honouring mystical answers, and the work is a multilayer practice in salvaging of family objects, repositioning how we examine daily work, and reclaiming it with a fresh contemporary take on materiality.
The repeated sunflower theme throughout the exhibition, the artist’s sunny disposition, the acknowledgement that life is a circle with petals, not a half moon horizon. A full cycle of raising children as we are raising ourselves, and with the knowledge of family and what came before, using discarded old signs silkscreened by an uncle, as substrate for paintings based on her late fathers photographs.
Ripped up mechanical manuals become petals, paint made with metal fittings from his welding shop, a repurposed welding visor that contains images of his band, an inner/outer life many artists and creatives straddle. The work we do from our hearts welded to the work we do for a paycheck to feed and provide and clothe those we love.
Remnants of her family’s work jeans ripped and braided into a rug. The mythologies we ascribe to as families as we create from our familiar collective memory – what/how we remember as small eyes, looking up to characters and personalities our parents know. A troubled band mate asleep in the coat room after a big party, the first day of moving into a new home that directly echoes the age of Love’s child when she moved back to the property she grew up on- the exhibition unfolds in thematic ripples.
Gifting the viewer with a unique and familiar feeling, how perspective shifts with time and age and the acknowledgment of vulnerability, how the back of a van was used for childhood camping but also was housing a dream of touring with a band, imagery of her parents eyes directly across from a mirror that reflects the viewers own.
I suppose it all comes back to Love, how aptly named, to bring forth so much compassion of self, honour an alchemy of grief, to show us that we can process loss in the context of community and family. That the work of materiality and re-purposing vitality, allows objects to incarnate new meaning and purpose in a cohesive beautiful exhibition of work.
This exhibition runs until October 28th, 2023, and is viewable at The Old School House Arts Center, on the unceeded territories of the Qualicum First Nations.
~ by Guest Curator Illana Hester