There are two artistic journeys Christa Desjarlais aims to share through her first solo exhibit Explorations: the professional and the personal.
“I’ve been exploring different media and techniques,” she said. “It’s been a real personal exploration of who I am as an artist.”
Explorations is mainly a mixed media show, a type of art Desjarlais is drawn to because there is “so much more to play with.”
“A good mixed media piece will baffle people … they won’t know how it was made,” she explained.
And Desjarlais takes advantage of the medium. In fact, she uses so much heavy material in her work that most of the paintings on display were created on birch panels instead of canvas so the images didn’t bow under their own weight.
It can take a while for a mixed media piece to come together, such as her piece Buddhavista. Unlike most of the other images in the show, which were created in the past year and a half, Buddhavista started as an art school project. “It took a couple years to bring it to where it is today,” she said.
There is also a piece called Poppies on the wall, which is the very piece that got her the show.
“She brought in her business card with just a picture of the poppies on it,” said Ian Warren, owner of Art’s Cafe. “I called her up and asked if she wanted to do a show from the strength of that one image.”
While Desjarlais said she’s “always been an artist,” the Bower-based artist only started painting full time in 2014. “Life has opened up in such a way I can focus on my art,” she said.
Since then, Desjarlais has taken advantage of every opportunity she could. She entered three pieces into a Nanaimo Arts Council show last fall, one of which won best mixed media and one tied for people’s choice. “That was really positive and encouraging,” she said.
Desjarlais also won a competition to have her piece The Window included in Insight 3: The Art of Storytelling, a book to be published by the American-based North Light Books
“It’s all about ‘say yes,’” she said of the journey so far. “You have to be willing to go out of your comfort zone.”
Desjarlais’ current exhibit will be up at Art’s Cafe in Parksville until the end of the month. You can also view her work online at cdesjarlais.com.