Visually Speaking: Three Years and Counting

Anna Horsnell

Hello artists, art-lovers, and loyal readers of The Grapevine. This article will be a little different from my usual spotlight on one of the many visual artists living throughout the Valley. This month marks three years since I submitted my first story for what has evolved into “Visually Speaking.” It seems like the perfect time to pause, reflect a bit on the past, and more importantly, look forward to what lies ahead.

First, I must say that meeting and interviewing each and every artist has been a privilege and an honour, even though a few of those meetings have had to be by email given the challenges of the past two years. Over forty artists have opened their hearts and shared insights into their background, their creative process, and their hopes for the future. Thank you all.

There have been painters and printmakers, sculptors and photographers. Artists have shared their jewellery and pottery, mosaics in glass and mosaics in wood; while still others rebirth discarded materials. There have been exhibits of new work and retrospectives of a life’s work. There’s been conversations with various galleries and makery studios. Emerging artists have shared their goals and more established artists have talked about the evolution of their work. Subjects have covered a wide range from high realism to abstract and everything in between. Styles have been as unique as the artists themselves. It was especially rewarding to give Valley artists a voice in recognizing one of their peers in this past August’s issue highlighting visual arts.

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes, and I’ve always felt that visual art is simply another way to communicate. The message may be clear or very subtle, but the interpretation of any work of art can vary widely. What I’ve attempted to do with Visually Speaking is give each artist the opportunity to introduce themselves and their art, but to also provide some space to share their thinking behind what they create and why. Here again, purpose varies greatly, but the very act of creation instills the artist’s perspective into their painting or photograph or sculpture. There may be truth or exaggeration, fine detail or bold simplicity. An artist may share what they see in the world, or express what they want to say about the world. Each voice is unique.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, coined the expression “refilling the creative well” when she spoke about how the creative process can sometimes be draining and even exhausting. As a professional artist myself, it has been a wonderful indulgence to meet other artists and listen to their stories. Sometimes we just need to get out of our studios and know we are not alone. Each of the artists I have met have inspired me and refilled my own creative well, and I am always humbled by the talented folks who call the Annapolis Valley home.

There’s lots more to come in the year ahead, and I never grow tired of who I’ll meet or what I’ll uncover. While I have stories lined up and ideas galore, I thought it might be fun to also provide readers with the chance to pass on their suggestions and comments. Is there an artist out there who you’d like to know more about? Or perhaps there are artists who have news to share? I’m here to listen. Send your emails to annamaryhorsnell@gmail.com, or check out my website at annahorsnell.ca.