Skulls invoke the spirits
A new art exhibition at the McMillan Arts Centre takes viewers on a wild adventure involving mysticism, animals, tradition and heritage.
It’s called Spiritual Journeys and the vibrant exhibition features the abstract work of Deborah Sears and the traditional Mexican art form of painting animal bones, by Kucutzi Ribe.
The exhibition runs to March 30 in the Oceanside Gallery at the MAC.
Ribe is originally from Mexico and has been in Canada for 26 years, the last three spent in Errington. She began painting at a young age, using her mother’s discarded materials.
“When my mother would clean her palette, I would go through the garbage and pick out the colours and spread them on paper or whatever; this mess of colours,” she laughed.
These days she paints mostly with acrylics in a traditional Alebrije-style on animal skulls. She believes that when you paint the skulls of an animal their spirit returns and may be a guide or guardian. Ribe is a Shaman and connects with the spirits of the animals, she said.
Ribe paints many different skulls from tiny rats to enormous Grizzly Bears adding recycled fur and feathers to many of her creations. She finds a lot of the skulls in the forest and often people give them to her, as a hunter once did. This man regretted killing a 12-year-old grizzly bear and so he had Ribe paint it and perform a ceremony. The bear is now his spirit guide and his life has changed in a positive way, Ribe explained.
Sears, a graduate from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, said her paintings in the show are a new direction for her.
“It was a shift, almost a movement, a slip if you like in the universe for me,” she said.
She started with her favourite colours, the primaries, and just became delighted with the figures that emerged in her mind, she said. All the paintings took on a Spanish flair, off on adventures, and all setting out to do something exciting, she said. One of the pieces is called There Will be Dragons and evokes images of the creatures and a female set for battle.
Images of animals may also spring to people’s minds when looking at the abstracts: bison, bears and horses that are reminiscent of the places in Sears’ past like Canmore, Banff and Calgary.
Sears said her and Ribe’s pieces were curated brilliantly as they both draw on the past, on animals, on adventure and have complementing colours.
Check out Spiritual Journeys at the MAC as well as photography by Jacqueline Barley, with landscape and macro floral abstractions, some embellished with hand drawn ink details. Visit www.mcmillanartscentre.com for more information.