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Papers from the past

Dorothy Doherty is the city of Port Coquitlam's new artist-in-residence.
Dorothy Doherty
Dorothy Doherty

Dorothy Doherty is sifting through the paper she’s collected over the past two decades, trying to make sense of the abundance.

The retired art and civilizations teacher has accumulated piles of envelopes, office paper, magazines, cardboard, napkins and paper placemats and organized them neatly in her one-bedroom suite on Burnaby Mountain.

They have served her well, she said, but now it’s time to let them go.

This month, Doherty began her first city artist-in-residency, using the paper she’s gathered to create collages and sculptures three days a week, in The Outlet at Leigh Square Community Arts Village in Port Coquitlam.

It’s not an easy task to sort through.

“Every piece is charged with memories,” she said, “so when I go through each one it’s really a way to deal with my past.”

Doherty, who studied art and art history at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Capilano University and UVic, doesn’t believe there’s less paper today, as promised with the introduction of computers: Her home is next to the co-op’s recycling centre and, each week, she sees a dozen full bins hauled away with paper products.

For her personal collection, though, she sees a release of artistic energy as “each one, placed with others, can tell a story.”

The artwork she’s creating in her three-month city residency will be on view in Field Notes & Paper Diaries, a show opening Aug. 30 in the Michael Wright Art Gallery in the Gathering Place at Leigh Square Community Arts Village; the display is up until Oct. 29.

And for Culture Days, Doherty will host a free workshop on Sept. 29 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the art gallery. Email

Some pieces from her PoCo residency will also be exhibited in Studio 334 at 1000 Parker Street Studios during the Eastside Culture Crawl in Vancouver, in November.

• Donations of used wall calendars (with good quality photos); high-fashion magazines; unusual paper; comic books; images from antiquity and very old magazines; and cuts and remnants of 4- or 8-ply mat boards (16 x 20” and under) will be accepted for Dorothy Doherty’s residency projects. Place the items in the Rubbermaid bin outside of her studio in The Outlet (behind PoCo city hall).