One of the most powerful images in art is a handprint, the outline of a human hand painted 32,000 years ago on the walls of Chauvet Cave in France.
Director Werner Herzog captured the image, which shows the world as seen by Paleolithic humanity, in his documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
What comes through is the power of mark making. Drawing who we are turned us into cognizant beings that recorded our lives. The cave painter may not have known this, but it still impacts us today.
Squamish artist Laurel Terlesky is offering a course, Locating Narratives in Mark Making, at Quest University, as part of its continuing education program. It runs on Tuesdays, from Oct. 14 to Nov. 18, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Course fees are $185.
She wants her students to tell stories through drawing, tapping their sensory awareness through pencils and charcoal, sounds, actions and other materials.
"My focus is creative practice in my own work. I look and I work with materials and make inquiries through materials," says Terlesky. "We're focused on drawing in this course, but through interacting with charcoal or pencil on the paper, what can we further learn about ourselves and our mediation of how we see the world and how we interact with things in the world."
Originally from Calgary, Terlesky has been an artist for years, her paintings gracing walls around the region, including Whistler.
She had also taught visual effects for media at BCIT in Vancouver and was an advisor to an arts program on CBC Radio.
But her interests evolved.
"My work has shifted a lot in the last two-and-a-half years because I've been doing more... my goal with my degree was to merge my media background with fine arts. I've feel I've definitely entered the realm where I can hold the title 'artist' more," she says.
She recently received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Practice from Transart Institute (located in Berlin and New York), but taken at the University of Plymouth in England.
Terlesky's creative practice explores knowledge through the generation of objects.
An example of this is her most recent installation, Ouch, which was on display at the Beaumont Studios in Vancouver this past spring.
Ouch is a large box covered in white plastic, "the same material an iPhone is made with." There are holes in the top of it spelling brail for "ouch." Stuffed into the holes are soft nylon stuffed cotton forms, which Terlesky calls "polyps."
Terlesky put out a call through social media for people take their iPhones or recorders and record themselves saying "ouch." This went into the piece's audio track.
"I wanted to look at how our social networking works. We're on computers all the time, we're talking through Skype, we're emailing more. What are we losing by not being face-to–face with somebody? I'm interesting in looking at that," she says.
"My initial research this year was to work with the intersections of vulnerability, technology and empathy. I used these materials while I was speaking to people. It's a tactile dialogue about the exchange between us."
In 2013, Terlesky worked with 10 motherless daughters, creating an installation on their loss.
She says about the experience: "I realized that doing a process like this you could work through trauma in certain ways, (it could mean looking at ) mental health or (you could) just widen people's lives to make it a bit more interesting and deeper. Understanding sensitivities, things that give you a better understanding of yourself."
Along with the course, Terlesky will be artist-in-residence at Quest University in February and March, and will be building an installation with the students.
For more information visit www.questu.ca/sub/continued_Education_2014/continuing-education.html.