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Exhibit shows clash of perspectives on changing climate at West Vancouver gallery

The Ferry Building Gallery is featuring Sunshine Coast artist Marlene Lowden and Whistler's Asta Kovanen

A new exhibition offers a clash of perspectives on how nature is responding to a rapidly changing climate.

On now until June 30 at Ferry Building Gallery in West Vancouver, Is This Too Frivolous? is a thought-provoking exhibition featuring the works of two distinct yet complementary artists: Marlene Lowden and Asta Kovanen.

The two artists were chosen to exhibit together because of their unique perspectives and their works’ visual and thematic overlaps, said Leigh-Anne Niehaus, community arts supervisor at the Ferry Building. The combination created a rich, cohesive narrative that is sure to intrigue and engage visitors, she said.

Lowden, a Sunshine Coast artist, is inspired by the forest and the ocean in her off-kilter paintings.

“The organic forms of nature are just part of my DNA, so when I think about something that looks esthetically pleasing or curious, it’s nature-based,” she said.

In her works, Lowden questions whether there is still room for beauty in a world filled with negativity, chaos and conflict.

“Sometimes, as an artist, it’s challenging to decide whether to create something that feels beautiful or to focus on a message with social, economic, or political significance. It’s an ongoing dialogue within myself and probably for many artists throughout history: Should I paint what feels true to me or create something that may not seem necessary but could offer humour or joy?” Lowden said.

Kovanen’s photographic collages, on the other hand, are infused with a sense of playfulness in a discourse about climate change. They showcase the resilience and adaptability of invasive plant species.

“I’m naturally a hopeful person,” the Whistler-based artist said. “I believe there’s always room for creativity, whether for us as individuals or for the natural world. Somehow, both have always found a way to adapt and innovate.

“While I can feel saddened by certain situations, I see them as opportunities to think and act differently. It’s not just us. The natural world is also adapting. Plants and animals are finding new ways to navigate this changing landscape,” she said.

When asked about what was particularly interesting about the works of these two artists, Niehaus pointed to the contrast between their bodies of work.

“Asta’s use of collages and headpieces introduces a surreal, almost theatrical element to the narrative of ecological adaptation. In contrast, Marlene’s abstract paintings provide a more introspective and sensory experience of the natural world,” she said.

“This juxtaposition enriches the exhibition and invites viewers to engage with the natural world from multiple perspectives,” Niehaus added.

She hopes that visitors to the exhibition will have a multi-faceted experience that is both visually stimulating and intellectually engaging. The gallery aims to showcase playful and whimsical elements in the artworks while also prompting reflection on serious environmental issues.

Ideally, visitors will leave with a heightened appreciation for the role of art in fostering awareness and inspiring action towards climate change.

Is This Too Frivolous? is one of three “Sustain” exhibitions at the Ferry Building Gallery this year. These exhibitions are supported by a West Vancouver Foundation community grant.

The series is curated to address climate change fatigue by celebrating human beings’ connection to the natural world around them, Niehaus said.

Fatemeh Falah is an intern reporter with the North Shore News. She can be contacted at [email protected].