Painting Person(al) Terrain - New works - Pop Up Art Show by Yvonne Vander Kooi

Person(al) Terrain - New works - Pop Up Art Show

Personal Terrain began as a series of loose semi-abstract portraits of children and has expanded into a body of work that places the figure/s in various resonant environments to tell specific stories about my life, childhood and family history.


The portraits have been inspired by the many children I have worked with over the years in the area of social work and as an art educator. Most recently I had the opportunity to collaborate on a school wide art project with the students and teachers at Bayview Elementary School. The resulting mural left a powerful legacy for the children, community and in turn, was rich fodder for me in the studio.


I referenced photos, drawings and memory from this project and from my own childhood to help inform the work and have tried to create a careful balance of both figurative and abstract elements while engaging the visceral properties of paint.


The landscape of the face has long been a subject in my work yet this familiar and personal terrain has become strange and unfamiliar as I search for new ways to navigate through experimentation, the materiality of the paint and a changing colour palette.


I am also interested in the spaces between and around the subject/s and the how the context, mood, emotion and personal histories factor into the narrative of the work (or into the implied story).

I have tried to create something both specific and universal about the experience of being a child; lost in play, reverie, emotion and imaginings and in doing so have inevitably drawn upon my own childhood. Old black and white photos serve as a starting point to the work - these images fire my imagination and illicit wonder about the stories they tell. I find myself thinking about shifting perceptions of the past and how new stories emerge as they are shared in the present.