FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Mysterious masks are lining the walls this month at Peace Gallery North, the handiwork of artists Suzon Anne Tremblay and Sherry Petryshyn.
The pair have been crafting the unique and visually striking masks since 2019, as the exhibit was intended to be on display long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The irony is not lost on either Tremblay and Petryshyn, as humanity has entered a strange time where wearing masks is part of everyday life, making for an ideal time to share their artistry with the public.
Petryshyn is a long-time member of the North Peace Potter’s Guild and says she’s been deeply enjoying her time building the claY- fired masks, experimenting with different colours, shapes, and textures to convey emotion, much like Greek theatre masks of old – between tragedy and comedy.
“With me, the building seems to just happen. You might end up with tragedy or comedy, it’s hard to tell as you’re building and molding the clay,” says Petryshyn, who is happy to let the art take on a life of its own.
The process has been very therapeutic, and builds off ideas from a solo show in 2017, which also featured masks, she says.
“We’ve glazed and painted them, and added in embellishments. I try to keep mine in groups of three, and you get so many ideas that you’re starting the next one as you’re thinking of the last one,” Petryshyn says. “The more you do it, the more ideas you get. It’s exciting.”
Also a member of the Potter’s Guild, Tremblay taught art at Ecole Central for 21 years before retiring. Many of her masks are inspired by nature and travels around the globe, incorporating ideas from animals, other cultures, and everyday life.
“There’s a few that have feeling, but mostly it’s just having fun with the clay. I integrate a lot of elements in the final pieces,” says Tremblay. “I’ve travelled around the world, so there are some here with inspiration from India, Morocco, North Africa.”
Tremblay says it’s been wonderful to be able to dedicate more time to personal projects, as the pair plans to return with more masks in another two years.
Masks is on display until Nov. 27 at Peace Gallery North in the North Peace Cultural Centre.
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