Death and comics

Fiona Dunnett blends disparate ideas in her artwork

  • Jan. 20, 2012 5:00 p.m.
Fiona Dunnett with a sample of her artwork

Fiona Dunnett with a sample of her artwork

When Canadian artist Fiona Dunnett adopted Oaxaca, Mexico as her home after graduating with a B.A. in Fine Arts — with honours — from the University of Victoria, she immersed herself in the cultural, social and political environment of Mexico.

She is back in Canada, but her six years of living in Mexico is reflected in her art work, which portrays graffiti-like images of death surrounded by a collage of comic strips.

Dunnett works in large scale and in three dimensions, using techniques and genres like collage, mixed media, photography and pop art.

Her multi media work will be exhibited at the MacMillan Arts Centre (MAC) in Parksville January 31 to February 25.

Mexican pop culture and its worship of death which is portrayed very graphically in the Mexican tabloids with gruesome news stories and photos of mutilated corpses provides some of the inspiration for Dunnett’s art work.

The Ottawa-born artist moved to Oaxaca in 2005 and the culture of the southern Mexican city became a rich source of stimulation for her work. Combining the photographs of violent deaths in the Mexican newspapers with a collage of comic strips, her graffiti like paintings in acrylic also contain elements of the natural world.

Dunnett’s canvases get their natural colour from dyes she made out of crushed insects and flowers. She used the cochineal, a beetle like parasite that lives on cacti from which the dye carmine is derived to make a bright red dye and she used Marigold flowers to make a yellow dye. Dunnett said she attended a workshop in the community to learn about the use of natural dyes which are derived from local plants and insects.

“For quite some time I’d been thinking about using natural dyes in my work and then I had the opportunity to learn about their use from an expert.”

Dunnett also participated in more traditional hands-on seminars, at the Graphic Arts Institute of Oaxaca and at other art institutes in the city.

She credits two local graffiti stencil art groups with providing her with additional inspiration.

The portraits of death combined with the comic imagery isn’t subtle and Dunnett admitted that while some people may find her paintings dark, it isn’t her intention to evoke feelings of horror.

“In Mexico they treat death in a different way … and I like to work with ideas of death and mortality,” she said.

Dunnett’s artistic talent has been influenced by more than Mexican culture. When she was five years old, her family travelled to Bangladesh because her mother was a diplomat for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). After three years she returned to Ottawa, and then her family spent three years in Zimbabwe.

Dunnett said she puts her own personality and life experiences into her work and she hopes the images come across as thought provoking rather than troublesome.

Her art show at the MAC includes an opening reception Friday, Feb. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. where the public is invited to meet the artist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville will host the 2021 B.C. Junior Golf Championships. (PQB News file photo)
Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville to host 150 of B.C’s top junior golfers

Provincial boys and girls championship begins June 28

Hannes Grosse, left, and Iris Steigemann, right, as they prepared for their 'Moments of Silence' exhibit. The father-daughter duo are showing at The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach until June 26. (Submitted photo)
Cortes Island artists exhibit at Qualicum Beach’s TOSH in first father-daughter show

Both artists will be present at shows on Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 26

The Lighthouse Country Marine Rescue Society will get more funding from the Regional District of Nanaimo. (Submitted Photo)
More PQB communities to fund Lighthouse Country Marine Rescue Society

RDN to introduce amendment to service bylaw contribution

A slide on best practices when reporting a suspected impaired driver that was presented to Parksville city council on June 7 by Margarita Bernard, a volunteer with MADD. The organization’s Report Impaired Drivers campaign involves the installation of informative signs within the City of Parksville. (Mandy Moraes photo)
MADD brings campaign to report impaired drivers to Parksville

Aim is to raise awareness that 911 should be called

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy patbaywebcam.com.
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum speaks at a press conference in August 2019 about provincial government approval of the city’s change to a municipal force, joined by councillors (from left) Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford. Members of the National Police Federation claim there is still no transition plan in place although Surrey RCMP’s contract with the city is due to end March 31.(File photo)
Elections BC approves petition application for referendum on Surrey policing transition

Application was filed under Recall and Initiative Act by the widow of a Surrey murder victim

There were 255 babies born in Victoria in May 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pandemic baby boom makes for a busier Vancouver Island Father’s Day

Victoria’s 255 babies born in May up almost 10 per cent over last year

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko, a Vancouver lawyer, has been suspended from practice for two months after admitting that his firm mismanaged $44,353.19 in client trust funds. (Acumen Law)
High-profile B.C. lawyer suspended over $44K in mismanaged client trust funds

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko admits he failed to supervise his staff and find or report the shortages

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

Most Read