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The Other Side of War Cornelia van Voorst

Fri. March 10th 2017 - Sun. April 9th 2017
Combining small figurative works with tiny portraits and larger abstracts "The Other Side of War" is an act of remembrance for innocent lives caught up in a storm not of their making. My art practice references the metaphor of searching the dark and broken places of our past to find the child who was left behind. We are not accustomed to looking at German wartime society with compassion, yet when we consider children it is difficult not to do so. I am searching beneath historical narrative in order to retrieve tactile fragments of human story which have been overlooked and forgotten.

As I face broken ancestral history I am aware that even in the midst of darkness there exists light, love, goodness and innocence, just as we see in these children and the love their mothers have for them. I wonder how long children will be required to pay the price of adult failure and violence, and I cannot help but make connection to the compassion many Germans are demonstrating toward the plight of children and their families fleeing Syria today.
The materials I use are conte crayon, charcoal, ink, pencil, eraser and acrylic paint. These materials allow me to be expressive as I ask questions of history and invite it back to the table, drawing out essential information that has been missing. Artworks are distressed through various means to explore rich textural possibilities of medium; I bring a tactile reality to images sourced from historical photographs so that the past is metaphorically embodied in the present.

While studying fine art in Sydney, Australia, Cornelia van Voorst questioned the validity of being an artist in a world which seemed to need so much more.
Having worked as an aid worker in the Philippines just prior to the Peoples’ Revolution, and studying at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall and Tiananmen Square, being an artist appeared to be an inadequate response to a hurting world. Working with children and families seemed a more useful vocational choice, yet the desire to make art never left her.

In the last few years while seeking to understand the effect of war on her own family, many of her questions about art’s value have been resolved- so much so that she has committed to her own art practice with her current work focusing on the impact of war on women and children.

Cornelia van Voorst lives in Victoria, British Columbia , Canada