VAM 37 | Artist Profile: Kelsey Whalen

Kelsey Whalen, A Girl’s Regret, 2014, Papercut, 41 x 33.

Visual Arts Mississauga 37th Annual Juried Show of Fine Arts, at the Art Gallery of Mississauga from January 15 – February 14, received 232 entries from across Ontario. Jurors selected 41 artists to be in the show.Until the end of the exhibition, the AGM blog will feature VAM 37 artists. Learn about the thinking behind the works in the exhibit, and see the works in person at the AGM! Vote for the VAM 37 People’s Choice Winner at our facebook page! To purchase works, contact the AGM.

In this post, the AGM blog features Kelsey Whalen.

How did you come to the idea to construct this work? What was the thought process behind it and what were your strategies in expressing this idea visually?

My work in VAM37 is part of an ongoing series of collages, using female figures which have been taken from a Victorian women’s magazine. The magazine “The Girls own Annual” first published in 1880 was a magazine catering to girls with advice and entertainment.

The original source material has been effaced with botanical imagery, in order to explore the relationships between women and botany. In the 18th and 19th century botany was a form of science more open to women, and it was a respectable pastime for women to collect and press flowers.

Each picture contains a flower that was traditionally used as a healing medication, and still has modern uses in pharmacology. These remedies passed down from wisdom collected over centuries has opened doors for women to become more informed about their sexuality, and in the science of botany. My work is inspired by this history, and by the use of flowers over time as a metaphor for femininity and female sexuality. The imagery explores different female archetypes, and questions ideologies about how women traditionally behaved.

Based on your experience in the 905, what has been the importance of a public art gallery and juried art shows?

Mississauga is a diverse community, with people creating artwork that stems from different places, and ideas. I feel that it’s important to have a public art gallery to showcase just how culturally different our community is.

Who’s your favourite artist (ideally within the 905)? How do you feel this artist has inspired your work?

Many of the collages I create employ a technique called cyanotype, an alternative process of photography developed in the 1800’s. I was inspired by the photographs of Anna Atkins, a botanist who created an extensive collection of cyanotypes of the plant life she collected. She is considered to be the first female photographer.