Next week, fine art photographer Michelle Leone Huisman presents the Vancouver premiere of her new solo show CMYK9. On display October 19-November 29 at Janaki Larsen Studios, the exhibition features hand-painted photographs and imagines how dogs may have experienced the pandemic — including how their worldviews, similar to humans, may have changed during that tumultuous time.
The series is the final installment of the award-winning artist’s pandemic trilogy, An Unexpected Collection, which previously looked at objects associated with the nightly 7pm cheer for first responders and Global Pandemic, a statement on the environmental impact of masks.
“When COVID-19 began, I felt compelled to document and create an archive of everyday pandemic life through my art,” explains Huisman. “With this last chapter, I wanted to explore the emotional bonds between human and pet, as there was such an influx in these relationships during that time. Pets became an important source of comfort and love for so many people, bringing brightness and colour to our everyday lives. CMYK9 captures that sense of levity and is coming at a time when many families are finally looking ahead to a more hopeful future.”
CMYK9 was inspired by Vader, the Australian Shepherd who joined Huisman’s family a few months prior to the pandemic. The artist explored his moods, personality, and character in the portrait that would launch the series, manipulating the work’s colours to reflect his emotional state. Soon, other pet owners reached out to her on Instagram, interested in having their own dogs painted. In each portrait, the subject’s individual quirks are on full display. From the agility skills of Miniature Schnauzer Milo to the shoe- loving Olde English Bulldog Bea, and even the howling escapades of Frankie, who ensures no siren goes unaccompanied.
To create the unique, one of one limited-edition works, Huisman uses tri-colour gum bichromate over palladium, a 19th-century technique that results in photographs that will last hundreds of years. The final result is a unique work of craftsmanship that mixes together the new and the old, digital and analogue. The longevity of the works speaks to the artist’s sense of archival responsibility and the importance of documenting the stories of our times in ways that will resonate with future generations.
The title of the exhibition draws from the four colours used in the production of the work: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). Although dogs have dichromatic vision — meaning they only see in two colours — Huisman imagined that their colour spectrum may have changed during the pandemic as dramatically as human lives changed.
Premiering, first in Toronto, this Vancouver exhibition at Janaki Larsen Studios, Loading Dock, 1706 West 1st Avenue, will feature 17 works, including eight new pieces. Hanging from October 19 to November 29, 2023, open to the public with Ms Huisman in attendance Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays 11am-2pm as well as Opening Night: October 19th, 5 to 8pm. Weekend times are available by appointment only, via michellehuisman.com.
Partial proceeds from each print sold will go to the BC SPCA. The public can also commission a portrait of their own furry family member.