While we at AfK love Emily for her unfaltering support for our many programs as a masterful studio technician, the public may know Emily for her work as an engaging Canadian visual artist!
Currently, Emily has on exhibition four pieces of her work at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art, supporting the conversation of, Dwelling: People and Place.
When asked more about her ideas, Emily is generous with her imagery and words:
My work has always been about place. About searching for human traces within the built environment. There is a push-pull relationship between people and the environment that continually fascinates me. We seek to control the places we live by building homes, streets, fences and places of business. Yet as we do this, our built environment also, in turn, changes us. The view we see, the bacteria in our soil, the minerals in our drinking water all impact us. This back-and-forth is continuous and incremental, so we don't always notice it at the time, but as we constantly re-shape -- and are re-shaped by -- our environment, our surroundings and ourselves become indissoluble. Which one is controlling, and which controlled? It's hard to tell sometimes, but as we intersect with our spaces, it seems clear that it must be both.
Over the past several years I've been making work in houses slated for demolition in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and in abandoned homes across the Canadian prairies. In these houses, I have created interventions -- sculptures made out of the various materials I find within the homes and in the yards, the idiosyncratic details that reveal the lasting traces of the people who used to live there -- which I then photograph, leaving the sculptures to be demolished with the homes. Each intervention is like a funerary rite, a final celebration of the indescribable synthesis between people and the place they occupied.
The abandoned farmhouses on the prairies, in counterpoint to the houses being demolished in Vancouver, are far from urban centres and have little to no monetary value. As farmland is conglomerated into larger and larger holdings, the farmhouses that were once used by the smaller farms are left to fall back into the prairie they stand on. I travelled to 12 of these houses over the summer and created sculptures using what I found at each location. The work was left in place; again, I only photographed my sculptures, and they will eventually fall down along with the abandoned homes.
If you would like to see Emily's work, please do visit the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art from Wednesday to Saturday, 12 – 5 pm. Additionally, you can check out her next exhibition this summer at the Richmond Art Gallery or visit her website at emilyneufeld.com