Earlier this summer, I was gifted a found photograph. It was a lovely group portrait of Québécois tourists in the Rocky Mountains. I’m assuming it was taken in Alberta (I can’t identify the exact mountain), and I’m not sure when the photo dates from, but I’m guessing sometime in the early 1960s perhaps. There are so many things I love about this photo, from the crazy patterns in their polyester outfits to the faded yet saturated colours that you get with photos from this period to the outlandishly tall tour guide on the far left. There is so much to look at in this photo, and it also related to some of my previous work, aesthetically and thematically. I knew that I wanted to make some art out of the photograph, but I wanted to work out a way that I could do so without revealing all the people’s faces.
I thought about it for a while, as I brought the photo with me to Ox-Bow, knowing I was going to do something with it. I had it pinned up on the wall in my studio, greeting me each morning. I knew I wanted to somehow carry on the theme of love, from the Banff residency I attended earlier this year, as it seemed to fit with the subjects in the photograph. And then the idea came to me, while listening to Joni Mitchell’s song, “A Case of You” on repeat one day at my desk. I scribbled out the lyric, “Love is touching souls,” and started working on my laptop on a scan that I made of the photograph. And here is what I ended up with:
I only realized recently, while going through old files on my computer, that the background that I used in my painting, “Wish you were here! (Family 2)” of the snowy mountains was from a photograph of Banff that I found online. I had always thought that the original reference photo was from somewhere in the Alps, so it was funny to realize that I had painted Banff in one of my paintings, about family and love no less, before actually going there this year for my residency.