In our column, Artist File, art advisor Diana Hamm of WK ART shares the artists that have caught her eye.
The Artist: Darcie “Ouiyaghasiak” Bernhardt is an Inuvialuk-Gwich’in artist from Tuktuyaaqtuuq, N.W.T. A recent Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University graduate, they’re currently living in Halifax. Darcie’s work is rooted in collective memory, as they seek to preserve historical and cultural practices that were intentionally suppressed. Painting in both figurative and abstract manners, Darcie creates canvases that recall community and intergenerational living, with the figurative pieces largely based on photographs from Darcie’s childhood. Rather than painting an exact facsimile of the photograph, the artist weaves in their own recollection of the time, through feeling and memory. “The idea that our memory constantly changes is something I think about often,” they say. Darcie recently started painting with rabbit skin glue, one of the original compounds in gesso. They find that it makes the canvas sparkle, giving a truer essence of the Arctic sun, particularly in the spring.
The Works: What I love about Darcie’s paintings is that the scenes themselves are rather intimate. Instead of painting on a small scale, however, they paint on large canvases, creating a picture more akin to a tableau than a photograph. “All of the images I choose are personal archives from my photo album,” says Darcie. “I’m preserving the significant moments of the people who inspired and challenged me, and it’s important to have representation of Inuvialuit and Gwich’in people.”