Basma Kavanagh

June 20, 2013 to July 20, 2013
Community Gallery


Opening Reception: Thursday June 20, 7:30PM

Watch. Listen. Basma Kavanagh’s art practice is rooted in attending to the diversity and complexity of life. Using natural fibres, recycled fabrics and paper, traditional rag papers, found materials, and conventional substrates like wood and canvas, she fosters direct connections between the physicality of natural materials and her subject matter. The deliberate and meditative techniques of printing, sewing, folding, and drawing continue—and evoke— the meditative processes of observing and interacting with the environment.

The work in Bio/Poiesis has evolved from drawn or painted portraits of plants and fungi that attempted to evoke their personalities (or spirit) to more contemplative and rhythmic arrangements of organisms and natural forms in a variety of media. Many of the book works explore interactions between humans and other organisms, and attempt to map these transformational experiences, using diverse forms to convey unfolding dialogues and understandings. Like book artists Shawn Sheehy, Tara Bryan, and engraver Abigail Rorer, Kavanagh approaches large questions about place, ecology and language through an examination of the small; this is a contemporary expression of a historic intersection of art and science.

This rigorous exploration of our environment—freed from the cool objectivity of science—reveals personal and poetic truths about our relationship to the earth and other living things, evidence of ecologist and philosopher David Abram’s assertion that “we are only human in contact … with what is not human”.

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Basma Kavanagh is a Nova Scotia visual artist and poet. She has lived and worked in Cape Breton, on Vancouver Island, in the Arabian Gulf, and Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, in each place creating work determined by her surroundings. Basma now lives in Brandon, Manitoba.

Basma’s work has been exhibited across Nova Scotia, in British Columbia, Qatar, and the US, and included in books and magazines in Canada, the US and the UK.

“My artistic practice includes direct interaction with plants and animals, a close observation of living things, combining empathy for ‘the animate’ and an attention to biological detail (the influence of many years employed as a scientific illustrator) to produce artworks that celebrate the intimate connections between living things. Lichens, pebbles, cracked earth, fiddleheads, fungi – these are some of the organisms and animate textures (earth-in-flux) that hold my attention, that unfurl in unnatural fractal forms of themselves when I dream at night. Embossed, sewn, and painted works celebrate these wishing-well forms: we stare into them, and see cells, growth, decay, a rude anatomy. We see ourselves reflected there, find an answer (or maybe the question) to the “world riddle”: a kind of poetry – elegant configurations of body against body, stanzas of stone against stone, delicately punctuated by the spaces between, an understated music of silences and shadows.”