By Natalie Worden
Image - Detail of 12 x 12 painting by Amber Lee Williams
“The opportunity to put on a show came to us!” says Wayne Corlis, one of the two featured artists behind the Devolve: Creation/Movement/Fluidity exhibition at the Niagara Artists’ Centre. The show will be held from August 6th to 20th, with a special event set for August 12th from 8:00pm to 11:00pm.
Wayne Corlis and Amber Lee Williams have recently been exploring mediums and styles that are new to them, but have chosen to showcase bodies of work in mediums and styles they are most familiar with. Wayne remarks that “during stages of exploration we tend to feel like we’re evolving through the steps of life. But are we really?” This dichotomy of evolution and devolution is the core concept of Devolve: Creation/Movement/Fluidity. “Although we evolve as we learn, our tastes and preferences do not always change,” said Wayne. “By going back to our roots with this abstract style, we’re devolving in a way”.
Wayne and Amber first became acquainted when painting side by side in a studio in Niagara Falls a few years ago. Both of them have similar approaches and techniques that yield very different results. By showcasing their work together, they are mirroring their art form: “abstract and random, but it works”. Interestingly enough, the studio workspace where Wayne and Amber first met was owned by THUNDERCLAP (Adam Buller) who will be entertaining the audience attending the event on August 12th. The two artists believe that THUNDERCLAP’s untraditional style is a perfect fit for their showcase.
When it comes to a medium, Wayne has a “hang up” for the Baroque and Romantic eras and chooses to work with oil paints. The quality and presence of oil paints is what really speaks to him, and it is a medium with which is he very comfortable.
With his background in philosophy, Wayne’s works are based on the interpretations of how objects interact with one another. Instead of painting with the purpose of expressing an exact representation of an idea to his audience, Wayne paints for the response of the viewer. This is based on the philosophical principle of “becoming”; the union between the art and the viewer.
Amber uses a more textured medium called encaustic. Although encaustic paint is one of the oldest forms of paint, Amber likes to give it a modern twist. She melts a crystalized tree sap called “damar” into the beeswax to add some shine to the paint, and then adds oil paints for pigment. Amber has been using this medium for about eight years, after first being inspired by one tiny encaustic work she saw in a gallery on Queen Street in Niagara Falls. “I had never connected so much with a medium before”, says Amber. “Before this medium I never felt that I had truly expressed myself through my art”.
Amber’s views of her work are similar to Wayne’s. When she creates she embraces the paint; the medium itself. Any figures or shapes that are created are born from that process and not from her mind specifically. Although she has an idea of what these images could mean, she does not expect anyone else to find the same meanings in them. Again, it is up to the viewers to come to their own conclusions.
The works presented in this exhibit are not representational. They are meant to break apart from stereotypes and logic, thus removing the viewer’s bias towards their own interpretation of the work. Because of this “freedom of creation”, there are no specific pieces that will be highlighted by the artists. It is up to the audience to connect with the artwork on a personal level. The artists hope that the viewers feel free to interact with the works very closely; to smell the paint, to look for the details, and to see the art through their own eyes.