For artist Krys Elliott, Niagara’s unique terrain continues to feed her creativity and rekindle memories.
Passage and Recall, which opened recently at CRAM (link below) is a remarkable testament to Elliott’s considerable talent and loving recollection of the long-ago urbanized fields where she grew up—tilled, nurtured and harvested by her parents and theirs.
“I was the basket collector,” said Elliott during the first-night reception. “Cutting grapes, pruning in the spring—it was our naturally organic ‘grapery’ that inspired this work.”
Elliott is a wandering spirit. Abandoning Niagara for travels in Europe and the Canadian West, she settled for a time in Halifax where she studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, graduating in 1987. Succumbing to the siren call of times past, her love of the region demanded a means of expression. Experienced in a variety of media, all of these paintings are acrylic on canvas—another stop on her “mechanical” journey. “I usually work in mixed media—I don’t want to put myself in one category,” she explained. “I did Niagara Ridge in 2008 and worked on the rest right up to last night. I sell them without the frames—the buyers can just pop them in.” Other titles include Overholt Apple Orchard, Lincoln Lakebed, and On the Bench.
In 2001, Elliott was working in “the store” (Elliott and Company, an upscale home & garden boutique in downtown St. Catharines) when friends stopped by with the dreadful news of 9/11. That tragedy resulted in Full Circle. “It’s very symbolic and almost a realization of peace. It was a good statement and won an award.”
A large piece of Masonite reveals a Celtic cross in the centre, surrounded by a circular “2-inch diameter of heavy black texture and dark mahogany finish.” A further image within, reinforces the work’s overarching spirituality, revealing the cross viewed through a window, symbolically closing the circle of original sin. Around the sides is the biblical quotation “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, for she was the mother of all living.”
Without overt preaching, the piece can fuel many discussions and was soon selected for a juried exhibition at Rodman Hall.
Like many fellow artists, Elliott’s looking forward to the tangible results if the promise of a new arts centre for St. Catharines can be realized. “It’s so exciting to be part of art in the city right now. For Niagara’s working artists it’s all starting to come together,” she concluded.
Standing in the midst of Elliott’s soothing work without borders, one is soon entranced by row upon row of natural growth, the nurturing warm earth and the marvellously fuzzy edges of reality drawn in a compelling mix of then with now. JWR