2014 Downtown Exhibitions

Ekphrasis: Writing the Collection

May 10th to June 7th  2014

Join us for the opening reception featuring spoken word and poetry
Friday, May 9th , 7:00-10:00pm

wpidrumDefinition: Ekphrasis is the written translation of a visual work of art.

Nanaimo Art Gallery presents Ekphrasis: Writing the Collection, an exhibition of works from the permanent collection. For this exhibition seven local writers have been invited to compose new poetic responses to specific artworks. Paintings, prints and sculptures can speak without words, but what do they say to specific individuals, and how can viewers share their impressions? This exhibition creates the opportunity to read artworks through the perspective of other artists working in the medium of language.

The questions of how visual art (image) and poetry (words) relate to each other can lead to the term ekphrasis. Originating in ancient Greece and taught as a rhetorical device where the purpose is not only to describe an object, but to share the emotional experience and content of it as well. Using ekphrastic poetry, one can bring the experience or essence of an object to the listener or reader through highly detailed descriptive writing.

The world we live in today is saturated with images from advertising, television, magazines, and especially computers and handheld devices. There is less need for visual description when high quality reproductions surround us and many images are easily found through Google. The speed with which we take in images rarely leaves time for thoughtful consideration. Ekphrasis is a way to deepen the conversation by giving artworks careful attention. Works of visual art often have an ineffable quality that, while impossible to put into words, can also be the paradoxical spur that compels us to try. The goal of Ekphrastic poetry is to surpass mere description in order to embody qualities that are beyond the physical aspects of the work it observes.

The Exhibition features new acquisitions by prominent BC artist and former Vancouver Island University professor, Ian Garrioch; prominent artist and VIU alumnus Brendan Lee Satish Tang and internationally acclaimed artist, Sonny Assu. Poems and texts responding to these and other artworks have been created especially for the show by Naomi  Beth Wakan, Nanaimo Poet Laureate; Lisa Webster-Gibson, spoken word artist, visual artist, and musician; Valentina Cardanilli, local artist and creative instigator; as well as responses from NAG staff Jacqueline Yeo, writer and art education assistant; Chris Kuderle, administrative director; Rob Bos, downtown gallery coordinator, and Jennifer Pierce, poet and gallery assistant. These writer/poet responses are a supplement to the viewers’ own, and merely add an additional lens with which to interpret the artwork.


Ekphrasis: Writing the Collection is curated by Nanaimo Art Gallery Downtown Gallery Coordinator, Rob Bos

Image: Sonny Assu, iDrum: Personal Totems #3, acrylic on hide, 2009

Current Threads

Please Note: Nanaimo Art Gallery downtown will be closed from February 16 until mid March when renovations are complete.

January 4 to February 8, 2014

Opening reception: Saturday, January 11, 1:00 to 3:00 pm, Downtown Gallery

Join us and meet the artists! All are welcome, admission free.


wpthreads imageCurrent Threads features work by 22 artists from the Vancouver Island chapter of the Surface Design Association. The Surface Design Association was founded in 1977 and has grown to become an International group of nearly 4000 textile artist members. Many members have been recognized and awarded prizes, have published in magazines, authored books, and teach and exhibit across Canada, USA, UK, Europe and Australia.

“Surface design” refers to the colouring, patterning and structuring of fibre and fabric. This involves the creative exploration of many different processes such as: dyeing, painting, printing, stitching, embellishing, quilting, weaving, knitting, felting and papermaking. Many conceptual frameworks inform the artists’ work such as socio-economic issues, historic or political contexts, as well as natural processes and the natural environment.  Artists in the group seek to inspire creativity, encourage innovation and advocate for artistic excellence in textile inspired art and design.

Participating artists: Barbara McCaffrey, Dale MacEwan, Diana Caleb, Donna-Fay Digance, Elserine Sprenger, Gillian Smith, Gloria S. Daly, Jo Ann Allan, Joanna Rogers, Judi MacLeod, Karen Selk, Kristin Rohr, Lesley Comassar, Lesley Turner, Linda Wallace, Margie Preninger, Marny Stevenson, Morag Orr-Stevens, Shannon Wardroper, Susan Duffield, Susan Purney Mark, Terri Bibby,

This exhibition underscores Nanaimo Art Gallery’s commitment to showcasing excellent work in diverse media by artists from our region.

Image: Gloria S. Daly, Snow Country # 2,  60"h x 50"w, blue wool blanket, hand stitched

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