Restless Fables

Curatorial Statement, Touchstones Nelson

Meghan Hildebrand has had a strong following in Nelson since she graduated from the Mixed Media program at the Kootenay School of the Arts (now a program of Selkirk College) over twelve years ago. In the middle of her studies at KSA, Hildebrand went to Halifax to study for a year at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. After returning, she completed her diploma at KSA, and later mentored under senior artists including David Alexander (currently exhibiting in gallery A). Hildebrand has shown her work in many locations throughout Canada, but primarily in BC and Yukon. She has also completed numerous commissions including artwork for the Nelson Wine Festival, Kootenay Moving Pictures Festival, and the Shambhala Music Festival. Hildebrand is now based out of Powell River, BC.

Hildebrand’s use of bright colours, her dynamic painterly style and playful imagery lends her work strong popular appeal. Her frenetic, dreamlike landscapes are reminiscent of children’s storybooks, yet the plot is undefined. Hildebrand offers the setting and a few characters, and invites the viewer to create their own narrative.

 In this new body of work, Restless Fables, we have zoomed out of Hildebrand’s dreamscape and can now see it as a whole - as a planet unto itself. With the subtle inclusion of eyes, the turbulent surface becomes a face or mask. The individual and the collective become symbolically united in a sphere of activity. The flat, neutral backgrounds of these new paintings are also a departure from her previous work. The round images read more as individual objects than part of a landscape beyond the picture plane.

Hildebrand’s upbringing in Yukon, rich with storytelling and exposure to aboriginal art, shines through in her use of animal imagery and the mask motif. References to Inuit art are apparent in her radiating drop-like shapes and mirrored bird forms. The circles divided into four quadrants are reminiscent of the First Nations medicine wheel, although this relationship was unintentional on Hildebrand’s part. Animal characters of Western and Eastern astrology are also suggested in the re-imagined constellations of the zodiac encircling the earth.

While creating this body of work, Hildebrand reflected on her role as a “producer of culture” in the context of colonization. While her imagery loosely refers to aboriginal art, she does not appropriate it for her own benefit. Rather, her unique visual language is open-ended, inviting us to generate our own meaning, drawing on our own cultural experiences. 

Jessie Demers