CANMORE – The latest exhibition to open at artsPlace was born online.
Coexist is a collaborative exhibit between a pair of Banff-based artists, Teenybotanist, Cecelia Leddy, and Nahanni McKay, which combines analog 35mm photography and digital drawings.
“Last year I was in a creative slump and I couldn’t figure out what to make next,” said McKay, the photographer of the duo. “I found Cecilia on Instagram… I knew she was a great illustrator and asked if she wanted to draw over one of my photos.”
After scrolling through McKay’s Instagram feed, Leddy eventually chose a picture of Mount Assiniboine to digitally draw over. The resulting artwork was just the start of the pair's collaboration.
The first artwork proved to be very popular online, which led the pair to make prints and sell them at Sideshow Gallery in Banff. The pair could not keep up with the demand for the print, so they decided to work on another piece together, featuring Mount Rundle.
The demand for the prints led the pair to think bigger, eventually seeking out a gallery to display their collaborative artwork.
“I happened to see a call for artists from artsPlace for their community exhibition, which happened to be the last day for submissions,” said Leddy. “We ended up getting selected for our own exhibition and since then we have been hustling to create more and collaborate more for the exhibition.”
The pair found out about the exhibition in late October, so for the past three months, there has been a flurry of activity to produce new artwork, print, and assemble the show.
Leddy said with the short window they had to put the exhibition together there was an immense pressure felt by the pair, but she said the Bow Valley community stepped up and helped to make the show possible.
“I’m actually so humbled by how much community involvement has come into play here from getting things on rush order, putting out a call on the Facebook for supplies … having people run to Calgary for us – we had a lot of help and I think that’s what this exhibition at artsPlace is all about, it involves the community,” said Leddy.
The artwork starts off as a mountainscape photographed by McKay. Leddy then takes the photograph and adds her own illustrative touch to the artwork. The illustrative work features a human figure incorporated into the landscape.
The goal of the artwork is to show the relationship between people and the environment.
“We came up with Coexist first of all because there are two mediums – photography and illustration existing together to create this really beautiful work,” said McKay. “It also explores how humans are physically small in the universe but how we have a huge impact on the environment and how we need to learn how to coexist as one on the planet.”
The exhibition opened on Jan. 6 and will run until Monday (Feb. 21). The pair will be hosting an opening reception on Thursday (Jan. 13) from 6-8:30 p.m. at artsPlace by RSVP only.