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PMAC show a search for self

This month, explore the concept identity through the eyes of artists exhibiting their works at the Port Moody Arts Centre.

This month, explore the concept identity through the eyes of artists exhibiting their works at the Port Moody Arts Centre.

Kate Scoones fell on the title of her exhibit, ordinary happiness, after being inspired by one of her favourite painters, Agnes Martin. "It's one of her titles," said the Pender Island-based Scoones. "And I thought 'Wow, that kind of resonates with me, that makes sense.'"

Scoones has taken family photos, some from her own albums and others from websites of found photographs, and creates a gouache painting or collage with them. She then erodes the surface with scars or scratches, "like the residue of a former life," to evoke the patina of an old photograph.

The found photos are particularly interesting, Scoones said, because their discovery by a stranger means they've been discarded in some way.

"Suddenly they're no longer being kept as keepsakes and remembrances," she said. "They're being allowed out...into the public sphere, almost like talismans. They're representative of every family, every person.

"And I love the fact that I can find these images, but it's also very sad they're no longer being cherished by the families."

Scoones has spent much of her career painting abstracts and landscapes, and brings that background into this series to evoke a more ephemeral sense instead of a portrait.

In the 3-D Gallery, Vancouver-based artist Jody MacDonald's Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up brings an element of humour to the search for one's true identity in the midst of a consumer-driven society.

The quirky title came from a sound bite of William Shatner; MacDonald discovered later it originally came from an Eminem rap song.

"I have a really soft spot for William Shatner, I'm so proud he's Canadian," MacDonald said. "He's so accepting of himself and I think that's really awesome." It was a lucky coincidence the song's lyrics, "an anthem for individuality," fit the theme of MacDonald's exhibit.

Several of the pieces feature figures bound in some way, which speaks to the notion that our multiple identities can both help us and leave us feeling trapped in some way, and offers an ironic counterpoint to the title.

Consumer advertising on billboards, buses and even bathroom stalls "is so pervasive it shapes us without us even really knowing it," MacDonald said. "And it has the ability to pervert our perception of ourselves and others."

Port Moody artist Helen Daniels showcases her Photography - Lomography as well, inspired by her discovery of the Lomography Camera during a 2004 visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery. She has since experimented with several versions of the Lomo camera to create the surreal series of photos.

The PMAC show runs until April 8.

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