Find your inner artist

Evocative exhibition runs at the MAC until September 29

Deborah Sears curated the current show at the McMillan Arts Centre


If looking at abstract art makes you think, ‘my kid could do that’ then you’ve made Deborah Sears happy.

That’s because she believes we are all artists and although adults forget that, abstract art gives an opportunity to find your inner artist again, she said.

“My very first artist statement I wrote for school opened with fact that I want people to say, ‘my kid could that,’” she said. “And then I want them on their way home to pick up some art supplies for that kid, or even better…I want them to do it, because I truly believe that we are all artists.”

Sears made the discovery about being artistic herself later in life, after working as a health care provider and retiring early. After the opportunity presented itself to stay at a friend’s house in Holland, she discovered a museum with work by all her favorite artists like de Stijl, van Doesburg and Bart van der Leck.

“I literally walked around the corner…and I let out a little scream I was so delighted!” she said.

This rekindled Sears’ love for art and upon returning to Parksville she enrolled in Vancouver Island University’s fine arts program. After completing her diploma with top marks she was accepted into the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she completed a fine arts degree.

On another trip to Holland, Sears was perusing a “kraker” or squatter’s free shop for some large paper to paint on when she discovered unfinished work by a Dutch artist J. Hoogeveen. She decided to embark on resolving them, adding her own contemporary abstract work but maintaining the integrity of the original pieces.

This work, entitled Found Art Series III is currently being exhibited at the McMillan Arts Centre (MAC) in Parksville, along with another series of her work called Out Lines. Here she has created geometrical abstraction pieces combining the repetition of lines and shapes with skyscapes, prairie fields and ocean waters.

Sears said people can take whatever they wish from her work but it’s meant to be lighthearted.

“One of the things I’m so thrilled about is people tend to walk in and get a smile on their face because my work is fun,” she said.

Sears curated the show currently hanging at the MAC called One World, Two Views which includes her abstract expressionism work and the exquisite realism work by fellow Emily Carr school mate Carol Hilland.



Hilland is a retired teacher-librarian from Campbell River who also completed a fine art’s diploma and then a fine arts degree from Emily Carr. Currently she’s enrolled in Emily Carr’s Critical and Cultural Practice degree program.

Hilland has three series of paintings exhibited at the MAC which explore the concept of identity via public and private personas. Two of the series look at a group of musicians from the Courtenay band Time Well Wasted, which her husband is a member of.

The work plays with the different masks performers wear onstage as opposed to their private lives.

Hilland is also showing a series called Crossing Borders, based on the identities of visiting strangers, specifically international tourists.

Thirdly, striking photographic images of French Creek Harbour are being exhibited at The MAC, by Rick Marotz.

“I think it’s a wonderful show,” said Sears, “There are three artists at [the MAC] and we are all so different yet I think it works. There’s photography, there’s portraiture, there’s abstract….it makes it very interesting for the viewer.”


Sears is giving an artist talk “Driven to Abstraction” at the MAC from 2 to 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21.The current exhibition at the MAC runs to September 29. For more information visit



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