at will, the work of artist Heather Koning, will be presented in the George Sawchuk Gallery at the Comox Valley Art Gallery. The work is the first installment of a larger exhibition included in the thematic program Constant Change which will unfold over the upcoming months.
Koning’s installation provides the viewer with the opportunity to interact with the work by setting an intention, then asserting their own will upon the configuration, then recording that change, and finally sharing their instigated change through a digital interface.
A pulley is a simple machine. A wheel with a grooved edge around which a chain passes. It acts to make work lighter. It can do so by changing the direction of a force, increasing the distance or speed of its power, transferring the energy from one place to another or increasing the magnitude of its strength. Machines are everywhere in our daily lives and make peoples’ existence much simpler. As a child, I played with an un-greased bike chain. I would pass it back and forth, snaking it through my fingers and coiling it around itself. The movement was automatic, aimless and easy. at will, another chain without a sprocket to grab hold of has the same kinetic invitation that beckons the viewer to maneuver it. Unlike the chain of my youth, the sculptures movement requires a concerted effort. To do so involves strength and persistence. The shape at will is left to rest is a negotiated dance and a surrendering of your intentions.
I grew up in Port Alberni and recently returned after almost a decade away, to set up a home and studio here. I am an interdisciplinary artist who crafts experiences and relationships by way of making and organizing objects. I use my art practice to elicit emotions and visceral responses in the viewer to pose questions that are culturally and socially pertinent to the community and place that I am exhibiting in. When I construct an experience, I am particular about the media I choose to work with. Every material has a memory, has a history an association for the viewer. Often this means learning to work with a material, method or technology that I might only use once. For one specific piece. For a particular experience. For a single connection between the viewer and the work. While the materials and process are ever-changing, there is one constant in my art and in my life, and that is humour and empathy. They are the humanizers, the life breathers of all things heavy or mundane. It’s what motivates me when the making gets hard.
– Heather Koning
I would like to acknowledge the Kwakwa̲ka̲’wakw people on whose traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory my work has been made and displayed in.