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Kwi Am Choi scholarship winner got 'dizzy' making art for Port Moody show

Until June 9 at PoMoArts, Vancouver painter and visual artist Dion Smith-Dokkie will showcase "Iris Atoll," while Connor MacKinnon will display "A Fragmented History: Port Moody."

The legacy of a celebrated Port Moody artist who died while hiking 15 years ago continues with a scholarship in his name.

And on Thursday (May 12), the exhibitions for the 2022 recipients of the Kwi Am Choi scholarship will open at PoMoArts, highlighting the works of two emerging artists following Choi’s example.

Until June 9, Vancouver painter and visual artist Dion Smith-Dokkie will showcase Iris Atoll, while Connor MacKinnon will display A Fragmented History: Port Moody.

For Smith-Dokkie, his display will be his first solo exhibition.

He told the Tri-City News he started the installation and drawings last year, working with a transparent substrate and water-based markers to create pieces with "delicate, airy, fluid" designs.

"The creation process was relatively straightforward," he said.

"I made drawings on the plastic while standing in three places: Over top the panels in my home studio; immersed in a pool of images and emotions inside myself; and projecting into what I imagined the exhibition would be once installed.

"At times, I was quite dizzy!"

The pair each received $2,000 and gallery space for their solo shows.

For MacKinnon, he used 3D modelling algorithms and digital fabrication to create sculptures using fragmented texts, local records and historical objects. With the help of the Port Moody Station Museum, he made pieces inspired by the McNair Mill ruins in the inlet and a fictional machine based on an artifact, among other historical reconstructions.

MacKinnon told the Tri-City News he applied for the scholarship while at UVic and, last fall, he got some perspective about his project during an artist residency stint in Lisbon, Portugal.

"Being away really helped shape my proposal in focusing my project directly on Port Moody’s history," he said.

"Prior to this exhibition, most of my artwork exploring historical reconstruction has been directed toward theories and concepts. My choice to focus on Port Moody’s history felt like an exciting way to learn about the place where this work would be shown and to apply all of the thinking that I have been developing over the last few years."

MacKinnon said he hopes to include parts of his exhibition in his graduate thesis, as well as in an upcoming group show at the Victoria Arts Council in August.

Started in 2007, the Kwi Am Choi Scholarship is for emerging B.C. artists between the ages of 18 and 32, who are currently enrolled in fine arts programs at post-secondary schools in Canada.

The past recipients are:

The opening reception for Iris Atoll (Dion Smith-Dokkie); A Fragmented History: Port Moody (Connor MacKinnon); and Paperscapes (Dorothy Doherty, Ellen Pelto, Jane McDougall, Olga Campbell) is on Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at PoMoArts (2425 St. Johns St.).

The artists will be in attendance and refreshments will be served.