Wednesday, 11 February 2015 15:01

Swift Current artist exploring creative possibilities after trip to China

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Swift Current artist Stephanie Kaduck has many memories from her recent trip to China to inspire her work.

She spoke about her experiences during a History Buy the Pint event at the Swift Current Museum Feb. 4.
The slideshow presentation started with her arrival in Hong Kong and there are images of visits to ancient villages and scenic natural areas as well as her participation in an international oil painting creation camp.
The artistic event was attended by 32 artists from across the world. It took place from Nov. 3 to 17, 2014, at the Pullman Hotel in Zhangjiajie, which is located in the south-central part of Hunan province.
“It was spectacular,” Kaduck told the Prairie Post. “All that kind of experiences is the fodder for my paintings and so I’m going to be painting it out for some time to come. It also opened a few doors and made a few possibilities more plausible career wise.”
She was able to meet artists from different countries during the trip and these connections might result in future trips.
“I hope that I’ll be able to go as an artist in residence somewhere else sometime in the next few years,” she said.
The paintings she will create as a result of her experiences in China might also result in future exhibitions in that country.
“When I’m having a group of them, I’m going to apply for an exhibition there,” she said.
This was the second time that artists from different countries attended an oil painting creation camp at Zhangjiajie. The previous one took place in November 2012 after a local group decided to invite artists from different countries to a workshop.
Kaduck and the other artists at the camp each created three artworks while they were there. The paintings are now part of an art collection sponsored by the Pulman hotel group and the intention is to include these works in the permanent collection of a new public art museum being planned for Zhangjiajie.
“Talks are under way to have that collection as a cornerstone of the new gallery,” she said.
A recommendation by Canadian master printmaker Gordan Novak, who participated in the initial event in 2012 and also attended the recent creation camp, resulted in Kaduck’s invitation to China.
Novak has a graphics studio in the hamlet of Admiral near Swift Current. He became familiar with Kaduck’s work after their recent collaboration to produce a series of prints.
“I’ve been to other artist workshops, but not with people from such a wide variety of countries,” she said.
The artists went on excursions to various locations around Zhangjiajie, including an 800-year-old bridge and a 200-year-old working farm. Another highlight was the visit to the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This landscape of over 3,000 narrow quarts sandstone pillars inspired many of the artists, including Kaduck.
“I was doing the same artwork that I normally do, which is very abstract, psychological landscapes, but I’m very influenced by place and experience,” she said. “So I built some of that into the paintings and the most obvious part of it was that I used a silhouette in red, which is the auspicious Chinese colour, of different views of those mountains in each of the paintings.”
She created her three artworks in a large room in the hotel with panorama windows overlooking the garden and swimming pool. She shared the space with six other artists and painted while wearing headphones to listen to heavy metal music.
“I put myself into a certain space when I’m painting,” she said.
Hotel patrons and some school groups visited the artists in the different rooms where they were painting.
“They would come in, look and ask questions,” she said. “It was really fun.”
Kaduck returned to Swift Current with a lot of ideas and images to use when she creates future artworks.
“My dreams for the first two weeks, three weeks after we got back was so bizarre that I think it was like image filing,” she laughed. “My brain was trying to sort all those things into place. So I think of one thing and it reminds me of something else, which reminds me of something that happened. It’s just all fodder.”

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