This past summer, moved by the amount of creativity she saw coming from artists during the pandemic, Nanaimo resident Karly Morrison set out to create an online art gallery for underrepresented artists with something to say.
“I felt really inspired and really wanted to find ways to raise others up in any way that I could,” Morrison said. “And being an artist and photographer myself, I really felt like the art and creativity world was an avenue that I could do that in.”
Morrison unveiled her virtual venue, the Bloodroot Gallery, this month along with its debut Spring Equinox 2021 exhibition. The show runs from now until the summer solstice.
The exhibition features images and video by Courtenay spoken word artist Spencer Sheehan-Kalina, performance artist Jess Richter of Nokomis, Sask. and American visual artists Katherine Leung and Angela Mark from central Texas and Boston, respectively. Morrison said she put a call out to artists online, searching for those who are “really making a point and highlighting issues that we as a society can work on together.”
“I really enjoy art that has a strong message,” Morrison said. “I do enjoy beautiful art – everyone loves to look at flowers and landscapes and things like that – but I think that one would notice that looking at the gallery website that there are some underlying social messages to the art work that I’m showing.”
She said Leung’s work in the exhibition relates to the effects of climate change on women and violence against women in developing countries, while Richter’s work touches on “reclaiming her historic ancestral culture as a remedy to the cultural appropriation.”
Morrison is also aiming to highlight artists from “groups that have been historically underrepresented in the art world,” to give them a platform and a chance to add to their resumés, which she said could help them get their work into other art galleries.
“I think it’s important that when somebody has a privilege, which I do have the privilege of living in Canada, that we do extend as much support and awareness as we can to others who may not have the same advantages,” she said.
Morrison said she’d like to focus on more Canadian artists, particularly those from the local area. She said the gallery’s name itself is a reference to her own feeling of belonging and connection to Nanaimo. She said she’s often moved away but “something about Nanaimo draws me back.”
“I know Nanaimo and the surrounding area and Vancouver Island as a whole have a great creative community…” she said. “There’s so much creative talent here and I really would love to support all of our locals as much as I can.”
The Bloodroot Gallery’s Spring Equinox 2021 exhibition can be viewed here.