A&E » Arts

A natural success



Ballerinas in gas masks danced under a tent tucked away in a forested park, surrounded by the elements that inspired the clothing they wore.

The dancing textile exhibit was one of 11 installments and showcases displayed at last week’s LUNA Harvest Art Fest: The Green Art Party, a competitive outdoor art show that exhibited artworks made from environmentally-friendly materials or messaging.

One of the clothing creations these nymphs of the night wore was a blue off-the-shoulder, sweatshirt with graphic design created by local clothing designer Sharai Rewels. The 24-year-old artist calls the top the Cold Shoulder.

Both the material and messaging came from a green consciousness, as do all of her designs in her collection.

Rewels’s clothing utilizes salvaged fabrics and vintage T-shirts. Each original piece is also stitched together in storytelling.

She hopes her off-the-shoulder tale will inspire conversation about the effects of global warming. Instead of standard size and price labeling, Rewels’s clothing tags advertise a different value, an environmental one with information fitted to global concerns and learning.

It was this combination of creative education, dedication to raising environmental awareness, and artistry in both design and exhibition, which led to Rewels earning the Best in Show at the Harvest Art Fest.

“This event turned out to be far better than I could have ever imagined,” said Kiran Pal-Pross, LUNA coordinator. “The proposals that (came) in made me more and more excited about the creative minds in and around our community. All of the artists in the show really wanted to make a difference.”

And differences they made, whether to onlookers or even the artists themselves.

Daniel John Poisson is famous for his vibrant, colourful artworks. Rich reds, yellows, greens and blues usually leap off the canvas. But at the Harvest Art Fest, the first artwork he painted live for the evening ran in muddied browns, greens and burgundies.

He explained while the paint first hit the canvas in colour, pigments faded to more subtle colours — the challenge of painting with blackberries.

Poisson really challenged his imagination, not only in his live performance in the cold and rain, but also with his palette of “paints” mixed from charcoal, blackberry, strawberry, evergreen and even grass.

The effect of how it changed the visuals of his work was surprising to the artist, but he intends to carry on his new paint recipes beyond the Harvest Art Fest easel.

Audience members voted the Whistler painter’s artwork one of the top three exhibits of the night, keeping company with work by Rewels and Dave Barnes of Sooke.

Construction sites are where many of Barnes’s artworks begin. He recycles wood from building sites, drawers from a garage sale and any other scrap wood he can find to provide the base of his visuals. Collage backgrounds and sandpapered imagery are built up from the wood to create what he calls “oldification” — transforming modern concepts to reveal a nostalgic mood.

Harvest Art Fest artists are now the ones left with a bittersweet longing, awaiting next year’s show.