Ingrid Mary Percy engages with the world through painting, photography, and drawing. "For me, making is a way of thinking. I access the world through drawing," she said. "Articulating a subject with a pencil allows me to know it intimately."
She sees herself as bicoastal living in Corner Brook where she is an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Visual Arts Program at Grenfell Campus and maintaining her roots in Victoria and Vancouver, where her family lives. The experience of calling two places home is informing her latest body of work, reflecting the flora of Newfoundland and Labrador in contrast to that of British Columbia.
Climate, weather and culture are all reference points for where we are in the world and for Percy what grows in a place is also a significant a guidepost. "Environment shapes and defines us. I know where I am, and where I am not, from the plants and landscape around me," she said. "The Pacific Northwest Coast is overflowing with life: from spectacular displays of showy, intensely colored, cultivated and wild flowers in Victoria to giant sequoias, cedars, ferns, mosses, kelp, etc. on the beaches and in the rainforests outside the city and beyond in Cowichan Bay, Tofino, or Ucluelet. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the scale shifts: plants are smaller, more compact, closer to the ground, hearty and tenacious – junipers, low blueberry bushes, sweet apples, Labrador tea, and bunchberries surround me on my daily walks through the woods and in the landscape."
Percy's process is simultaneously methodical and playfully free. She starts by making brush strokes in a burst of shape and colour that mimics the structures of the plants she's photographed and drawn in nature. She also uses a wildflower guidebook as both an inspiration and a reference, but traditional research follows her creative ideas. "I try not to edit myself. If something feels right, I pursue my ideas without self-censorship to find out where they lead," she said.
She then cuts the canvas into shapes reminiscent of plant life and creates collages that clearly reference her botanical subjects. "I'm interested in visual contrast through pattern, colour, shape and placement. With this series of work, I want to share both what I see and how I see it. I'm attempting to recreate my experience of place for the viewer. The compositions are organized outbursts of shape and texture, contrasted by calm areas of pure, flat colour or space. Representational as well as abstract elements come together to communicate my experience of both belonging and alienation – familiarity and difference. I think ultimately, however, this work is a celebration of life in all its diverse forms and expressions." Percy said.
Percy's new work was shown in Victoria, BC in July of 2016 in two exhibitions. The titles of the shows are Flankers and Blossoms, both words from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. Flankers are bright sparks from wood fires and blossoms are large snowflakes. "I'm interested in vernacular language of this place – the words describe natural phenomena specific to living here," Percy said.
Blossoms was shown at the Emily Carr House, a Victoria gallery housed in Carr's former residence. This show dovetails with Percy's interest in Carr's life and the context in which she worked, in particular what it meant and means to be a contemporary Canadian female artist.
Percy's work can be seen online at www.ingridmarypercy.com.
ABOUT FOR THE RECORD:
the semester we will highlight some of the interesting research taking
place at Grenfell Campus. The articles will appear here and will be
compiled on the research webpage.
Article prepared by Alli Johnston