Elizabeth Symons stands with some of the 18 paintings in her About Face exhibit at the MAC, running until the end of November. — Adam Kveton Photo

Spark of inspiration in the UAE

Elizabeth Symons on her latest art exhibit at the MAC in Parksville

Society is changing fast in many areas of the world, but it was a visit to the United Arab Emirates where the contrast in generations sparked inspiration in Elizabeth Symons.

Expanding on what she saw and learned in the desert country, Symons has a set of 18 paintings up at the MAC for the month of November making up her exhibit, About Face.

Symons went to Abu Dhabi to visit her daughter at the New York University campus there, she said.

“I was inspired by the transition into urbanization and globalization that has brought them universal education and the impact it has had on their ancient Arabic culture,” said Symons.

“The leap of faith on behalf of the great grandparents and grandparents… to embrace the modern internet world, or lifestyle, would not have been imaginable in less than 100 years,” she said.

“You think there is a gap between you and your grandparents?” she asked.

While that served as the inspiration for Symons’ 18 paintings, the paintings themselves are not about Abu Dabi or the UAE, she said.

Nearly all acrylic paintings depicting tall figures set on warm yellow, red and orange backgrounds, the exhibit is meant to reflect timelessness, said Symons, as well as give distance to remember shared and lost perspectives.

“The exhibit is about the gateway to illuminating the vulnerable and the controversial,” said Symons, expanding the theme beyond her inspiration.

“The human figure addressing challenges on identity, diversity and place.”

Though Symons’ work often comes about organically, with Symons detecting curves and spaces as she paints, this series began with an idea of what to say, with Symons adding that she’s happy with how it’s turned out.

The exhibit runs at the MAC at 133 McMillan Street in Parksville throughout November.

For more info, go to mcmillanartscentre.com/november-2017-exhibitions/.

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