Art ‘Lost and Found’

Artist Shari Pratt with her paintings at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery where an exhibition of her work opened on Saturday. Lost and Found is at the gallery until February. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Artist Shari Pratt with her paintings at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery where an exhibition of her work opened on Saturday. Lost and Found is at the gallery until February.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

Shari Pratt's collection of paintings on display at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery was inspired by strangers.

Based on photographs from the '40s and '50s found in antique stores, the exhibition Lost and Found features portraits of unknown individuals who express aspects of Pratt's own personal history.

"Inspired by the notion that companionship and a sense of belonging are vital to human happiness, my work addresses themes of aloneness where I try to find meaning and truth below the surface," she says.

"We all want to feel that we belong somehow."

Most notably, Pratt captures feelings of loneliness and isolation that relate to her itinerant childhood; the fact that her family moved frequently while she was young made it difficult for Pratt to forge the deep friendships and connections that are recognized as fundamental human needs.

She begins by building up the surface of the canvas with a contemporary portrait and found objects and then peels back the layers through physical deconstruction by sanding, carving and detaching.

It is through this sequence of layering media on the canvas followed by selective deconstruction that Pratt evokes the passage of time and distance between the viewer and subject, thus reinforcing the notion that her portraits are based in recollection of memories that are alternately sharp and indistinct.

The series Lost and Found allows the viewer, no matter how isolated they may be, to peel back their layers and feel that they can connect with any of the figures in the paintings and their stories.

Pratt is well known as an art educator in the community and has built of a strong following of students while maintaining an active studio practice. The past year has been a particularly auspicious one for Pratt, as she has had solo exhibitions at public galleries at Fort Langley and the Port Moody Arts Centre, where she is also artist in residence.

Meet the artist

Lost and Found is at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery, located inside the ACT, until February. Shari Pratt hosts a presentation about her work on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 11 a.m.

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