Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Arvokas: Lora Northway at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery

Lora Northway, Elizabeth Buset and Jean Marshall will be in attendance at their show’s openings this Friday, January 10, at 7pm at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery. The shows run till February 15. Lora Northway’s works are featured in Gallery One. An article will appear in two weeks time dedicated to Buset’s and Marshall’s work.
     Primarily exploring mixed media, Lora Northway has an Honours BFA from the Lakehead University Department of Visual Arts, and holds a minor in Women’s Studies. Lora is a youth and community outreach administrator, organizes the Die-Active Youth Collective and assists with DEFSUP’s shows, website and blog.
     Born and raised in Thunder Bay the works in her first solo show are a blend of personal history, the Finnish community, and images related to Lora’s great great grandmother Aina Wilen.
     Wilen moved to Thunder Bay in 1901, was a suffragette and started the women’s movement in Thunder Bay a few years after arriving. She married Otto Wilen and  both were well known to the community. With these family connections and a recent interest in Finnish textiles and folk art, Lora did some research at the Finnish Museum and at Lakehead University.     
     Finnish mythology also came into play, including the creation myth, Lintukoto, where the world is created from a great goose egg. Other mythic references are made in Lora’s works, along with patterns from Finnish folk art. The Rya rug and Rag rug, are referenced in Lora’s works. These are rugs, which Lora’s great, great grandmother made. Many other of family references are included in the works.
     The combination of all this makes for creative imagery that is lovingly personal, poetic, and surreal in presentation.
     “I’m creating characters in the work whose sense of time and place is blended between time periods with their clothing and the settings,” Lora explains. “I’m attempting to create the sensation of the old and new together so the characters are straddling different worlds at once, in created worlds, so that you feel like you’re inside and outside at the same time.”
     The imagery also echoes the landscape that can be found in Finland. This is done in order to celebrate Lora’s family’s quiet closeness and long attachment to nature and experiences outdoors. The imagery with the tent and a simple 1930s summer cabin by Dog River, still family owned, represent where the most beautiful parts of Lora’s sense of home take place. It’s what makes Lora feel grounded.
     Lora describes her works as “shallow dioramas” because the layers of the works are visible, and attachments, like the cutout trees could potentially move with a gust of air. More than flat collages, imagery is given a little more lift and contrast. “I’ve always been attracted to layering and creating works by piecing things together,” states Lora. “All the pieces have an actual image, like the bear, Cloudberry Boy (a Finnish way of naming a bear), that are from historical photographs.”
      Lora's works are quite large, well thought out, and exhibit a number of drawing and painting talents. The reproductions, seen here, don't come close to representing the depth, colour, and detail of her works. Many of the works hang as if they are massive scrolls, suggesting you look for a story.Knowing a little about the subject matter helps, but the images are fascinating enough in themselves, in works that each feel complete, so the surreal dream-like imagery is a real draw and encourage the imagination.
     The opening night for Lora Northway’s show, Buset’s and Marshall’s coincide with DEFSUP’s grand Urban Infill-Art in Core activities, which attract thousands of people through the months of January to April. Much more information can be found at 

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