What Lies Beyond

“There are many events, people, emotions and places one experiences throughout their life that can lead to contemplations of the spiritual. Certain sites in nature have long been recognized as spiritually potent – places of great beauty, the vastness of the land, the sea and sky. Meditations begin when we notice the way the air is charged in sacred places, or the way the light shines through stained glass, or how knowledge passed down from our ancestors can strike a chord within ourselves.”

Danielle Ribar

What Lies Beyond  brings together the works of twenty artists from the AFA collection, whose artworks lend to the theme of spiritualism within their art.

For over 15 years now these curated exhibitions, in their big blue crates, have been presented to the community of Jasper. With the changes in how we gather as a community we had the chance this summer to get creative to overcome viewing challenges. The show is hanging at the Habitat, with every Thursday throughout the summer being a potential day to see the artworks. For those not able to get into the building on a Thursday we are happy to present the works virtually on VIMEO.

This hybrid presentation also allowed for us to reach out to the curator and talk with them about their exhibition. 

“I find it important sometimes to know the intention, not only of the artists, but the intention of the curators as they put a show together. One of the beautiful things about the TREX exhibitions is being able to create educational guides as well. Gave me a chance to have my voice heard besides the usual didactic that goes with the shows.”

Danielle Ribar

Habitat: Tell us about the Alberta Foundation for the Arts collection.

Danielle: The Alberta Foundation for the Arts collects, manages and shares the largest collection of visual artwork by Albertan artists. Approximately 30% of their collection is in public circulation in any given year, and with the support of the AFA the Travelling Exhibition Program is able to circulate some of these artworks across the province. These particular artworks that were selected to be in the What Lies Beyond exhibition are all loaned from the AFA’s extensive collection.
This growing art collection consists of over 9,000 artworks showcasing the creative talents of more than 1700 artists. The AFA art collection reflects the development of the vibrant visual arts community in the province and has become an important cultural legacy for all Albertans.

Habitat: This exhibit you have assembled / curated has 20 pieces all chosen for their ‘depiction of spiritualism’. How did you choose your theme?

Danielle: Since one of the key aspects of humanity is spirituality, I wanted artworks that opened up people of all ages to explore what spirituality means to them.
Everyone has something they believe in or are influenced by. It is the foundation of a person at their core; and one will discover or change their core beliefs throughout their lives. I felt it was important to show how art can inspire and provoke thoughts around spirituality that are outside the typical symbols of organized religions.
I wanted people to think of their own definitions of life and reality, I suppose because I myself value wonder and curiosity.

Habitat: What are you hoping people will take away from this exhibition?

Danielle: That spirituality isn’t always about a higher power, religious beliefs, life after death, or the importance of the human spirit.
To be spiritual means to believe in powers beyond yourself, and depending on what you believe or believe in can affect how you demonstrate your spiritualism.
It’s about opening our minds, and opening our hearts. To become mindful of our presence, the present moment, our world, and each other. To get a deeper sense of knowing oneself as an individual – and humanity, as a whole and finding the connections within it all. That there is a healing power to this kind of awareness.

Habitat: Why do you think art is such a perfect medium for reflection?

Danielle: Art is an important vehicle to stimulate reflection, as well as exploration and conversation. I feel that art can encourage us to observe and feel, as well as analyze. Art reaches our senses on many levels and we can intuit our own meanings from it as well as a commonality. We all go through life together.

Habitat: We are recording curator thoughts to add to a virtual exhibition of WHAT LIES BEYOND. Such a great title as we move into reopening public spaces…the arts truly can be a ‘reservoir of spiritual meaning’. Can you talk a bit about how this show has such perfect timing as we move towards going back to galleries…how we should be gentle with ourselves…

Danielle: I find viewing artworks is a way to slow down and contemplate what drives us and what things we believe in… that aren’t necessarily tangible. It allows us to view other perspectives and connect to other people and I think it is especially important that within this digital age we come back to spaces and moments that slow us down for more than a few second of flickering screen time; which is slightly ironic with us being so dependent on digital information over this last year and having to do virtual exhibitions,  but I think it is also  important to take time in a dedicated space for viewing art to find those meanings and connections within the artworks, as well as within the world around us as we re-enter it.

Habitat: Which piece is your favourite and why?

Danielle: It is very hard for me to pick a favourite piece from this exhibition as there are aspects in each one that I love, however, lately I find that I am drawn to the luminous watercolour by Robert Sinclair called STANDING SITTING because of the sense of tranquility it brings to me when I gaze upon it.  My own spirituality is often connected to those quiet meditative moments that I find within nature and lately I am becoming intimate with the mountains and wildflowers of my new home in Southern Alberta, so in this moment I receive a quiet sense of exploration from the piece.

Robert Sinclair
watercolour on paper

WHAT LIES BEYOND will be available to view THURSDAYS at the Habitat this summer – or on our VIMEO page

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