From 6,000 year old cosmological cave drawings to Van Gogh’s Starry Night and beyond, awe-inspiring celestial views have forever transfixed the gaze of artists. Cosmos taps into this timeless fascination through a contemporary lens, offering up stellar works by three Canadian artists: Erik Olson, Gathie Falk and Margret Nazon, with commentary on select works by retired Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk. Though their approaches to the subject matter vary, their common enchantment with the mysteries of the universe is a bond that ties them together not only with each other, but with anyone who has looked up at the night sky and pondered its endless questions and unfathomable depths.
Erik Olson was born in Calgary in 1982, and graduated from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2007. The following years after university, Olson travelled extensively, studying painting at artist residencies in Canada, Italy and India. Olson self-curated his first solo show in an abandoned gas station in 2008. Since then, his paintings have been recognized by curators and galleries which has led to exhibitions at the Glenbow Museum, MOCA Calgary, Art Gallery of Calgary and the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee Union Gallery. In 2012, his painting, “The Skateboarder”, was included in the BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, UK, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, UK. In 2014 Olson moved to Düsseldorf, Germany to study at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf as Peter Doig’s guest student. His artwork is in the collections of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, McCarthy Tetrault LLP, Richard Ivey School of Business and TD Bank.
Gathie Falk was born in Alexander, Manitoba in 1928. Her parents were German-speaking Mennonites who immigrated to Canada in order to escape persecution in Russia. Shortly after Gathie’s birth, her father died, leaving the family impoverished and forcing them to move repeatedly to various Mennonite communities across Canada. For a short time, the family moved to Winnipeg, setting in Vancouver in 1947. In the 1950s, Falk studied education at the University of British Columbia and worked as an elementary school teacher for 12 years. During this time, Falk also began her formal training in the arts. She took summer classes at UBC and studied drawing and painting with JAS MacDonald. In 1965, Falk left her position as a teacher and decided to pursue a career as a full time artist. Working in painting, sculpture, installation and performance, Gathie Falk has repeatedly explored motifs of the domestic and everyday, choosing running shoes, fruit, eggs and clothing, among other objects, as her subject matter. In 2013, Gathie Falk was awarded the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Visual Arts. She is also the recipient of the Gershon Iskowitz Prize (1990), the Order of Canada (1997), Order of British Columbia (2002) and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2003). Falk continues to live and work in Kitsilano, Vancouver.
Margaret Nazon in her own words: "Like most young girls, I learned to sew by helping my mother. When I entered residential school I was introduced to new sewing techniques. I quickly learned to use the sewing machine and with that knowledge I became interested in altering and making my own clothing. Today I teach young and old to sew parkas; mukluks and vests. I have always been interested in learning new art forms and new techniques, which I try to apply to my own work. In 2009, I started creating beaded space images influenced by the Hubble Space Shuttle Program. There are beaded galaxies, supernovas, stars and planets in my repertoire. The beadwork is embroidered on canvas backed black velvet. Beads of various types and sizes are used in one project, this allows for a very interesting image. The beads are perfect for creating dimension in my work. I like the connection between using a traditional medium to bring new concepts to life. I am self-taught in fabric art; I use fabric and thread to create wall hangings. The manipulation of fabric; embroidery and beading are techniques used to create northern landscapes. Designing and creating are the pathways for me to express my true self, and in that sense, I am satisfied knowing that my work is 'original.'”