Anna Gustafson / Clea Minaker / Elizabeth Russell + Natalie Nickerson / Heather Passmore / Nadine Bariteau

An exhibition that considers implications of concealing and revealing


  • community make art projects facilitated by Anna Gustafson / Nadine Bariteau
  • art opening + artist talk
  • performances by Clea Minaker in the George Sawchuck Gallery
    11:15AM + 12PM + 3:15PM + 4:14PM
    the music of the firmament
    Take a short walk through the cosmos with Hildegard von Bingen, the 12th century religious leader, poet, composer, visionary and naturalist. This intimate 15 minute performance brings into relationship; light, materials, and gesture, to produce an ephemeral depiction of our planetary existence. It asks its’ participants to listen for the music of the firmament, which has been, as of yet, too far away hear…



REMOTE AND OBSOLETE (2017 – ongoing) One Chapter from Object Lessons / discarded electronics, used linen bed sheets

When I began this investigation, I was intrigued by the ritual, the problem solving, the physical, repetitious labour and of course the transformation. As a generalist, I would enshrouded almost any discarded small appliance.

The disproportionate supply of kitchen appliances resulted in a focus on kettles, toasters, pots and irons. Because they have distinctive forms and are part the constant minutiae of everyday life, I assumed that they would resonate universally. I was wrong. The powerful combination of textiles, hand sewing and domestic appliances overwhelmed some men’s capacity to observe, absorb and interact. For these men this project was ‘women’s work’ and subsequently dismissed. As it is important that my work resonates universally at some level, I endeavor to find common ground. Remembering the hours of men showing slides and home movies, I enshrouded projectors. But they were dismissed as old technology just as a manly skill saw was viewed as working class. However with remote controls there was a flicker of interest and a laugh, and with stereo electronics – finally engagement for most men.

I shifted the my focus of my work to electronics because men still hold the power behind the forces that are destroying our beautiful natural world. So for now I am a specialist, enshrouding: remote controls, entertainment electronics, film & slide projectors.

THE HEART OF THE MATTER (2015 – ongoing) One Chapter from The System Is Not Fool Proof / radiographs of wildlife in rescue facilities,
hd video loop.

I introduce wild animals that have been affected by habitat loss, and end up in Wildlife Rescue facilities. Instead of using distractingly anthropomorphic images, I choose to expose the visitor to the bones of these diverse creatures, with radiographs. The viewers gaze into the animal’s inner structures, similar to ours, yet so different.

ANNA GUSTAFSON / I was conceived in Guatemala to an Italian/Guatemalan mother and Swedish father, and was born in Sweden and raised in Vancouver, Canada. My long view has benefited from being nurtured in a multicultural family within an immigrant perspective. An important premise of my work is that we best remember information and events through our senses and associated emotions. As my practice has a strong sensory component, my work encourages each viewer to develop their own emotional responses, and fully absorb the information presented.
An honours graduate of Vancouver School of Art – now Emily Carr – I have shown in public galleries since 1974.


PHYSICA is a living installation and a time-based performance producing ephemeral projections from the interactions of objects, light,
and phenomena.

Our experience of light, both conscious and unconscious, speaks to the fragile and magnani-mous sensations of being human in an omnipotent universe. Our perception of light, underlines our relationships to both the natural and man-made worlds. Light, along with shadow, shows us the shape of the world through its’ contours, its’ empty spaces, its’ shimmering affects, stand-ing as proof of our existence on the planet and
under the sun.

PHYSICA, is a space and a place for contemplation, for observation, and for the convocation of shared experience. It is an imagined diagram of the cosmos: rocks and prisms counter-balance; phenomena in perpetual interaction, reveal the sublime. So what of the perceiver? and what of the perceived?

PHYSICA is an ode to human contemplation of the universe from the beginnings of time, to our pre-scientific understandings of both the microcosm, and the macrocosm. As a diagram of the future, it stands as a symbol of the power we feel we now hold over our destiny as a species, and as a planet. The self hangs in counterbalance with the community. The strings extend be-yond the cloister to the passerby.
We have hand in all of existence: it is palpable, concrete, in-tangible, and terrifyingly vast.

This research plays with synergistic relationships between material, gesture, and image. It as-pires to create a forum, and an invitation to enact movements together, to uncover agency, re-sistance, beauty, and hope.

CLEA MINAKER / is a performer, director, and interdisciplinary creator who trained at the International Insti-tute of Puppetry Arts in Charleville-Mézières, France (2002-2005). Clea explores an interest for shadow, light, live projections, object creation, as well as the poetics of manipulation, and cor-poreal gesture.

She works in theatre, live music, opera, dance, film, visual art, and community arts. She has created commissioned works for: the N.A.C Orchestra, The Banff Centre, IF! Istanbul, Festival Casteliers; some notable collaborations include; Feist, Atom Egoyan, So-called, Kid Koala. Clea was awarded the 2009 Siminovitch Protégé Prize for Theatre Design by prize laureate and pup-peteer Ronnie Burkett.

Clea has been artist-in-residence in the theatre department at Concordia University from 2014-2019, teaches at l’Université du Quebec à Montréal, and The National Theatre School of Cana-da.


As artists, we collaborated to create an assemblage of abstract paintings, text and mixed media works that combines Natalie’s poetry and Elizabeth’s art. “Apocalypse”, the poem showcased, is inspired by the Greek origins of the word, “apokalýptein,” which carries the definition
“to uncover.” Commonly, apocalypse is thought to mean devastation, or catastrophe, in association with the end times of the world. We welcomed the idea of apocalypse as the end of living under false pretence—a time where the Truth is unveiled.

Together, we explored the social and political concept of the poem “Apocalypse” while discovering the creative processes inherent in both writing and art making. Our acts of editing relates to both writing and art. In Natalie’s writing, numerous words come into existence, are removed, replaced and rearranged as the most relevant and meaningful writing is revealed. In Elizabeth’s painting practice, layers of colour, textures and shapes are built up then sanded down to unearth a unique surface. Our collaborative art and writing practices involved risk and chance encounters, but ultimately required a subtractive process in order to evince the essence of the work.

NATALIE NICKERSON / I was born and raised in Ontario, however I’ve called the Comox Valley home since 1998. I enjoy traveling and indulging in a host of eclectic interests such as visual arts, literature and language, cultural anthropology, philosophy, quantum physics, Eastern religions and alternative medicine & therapies. I earned a Bachelor of Arts, followed by a Bachelor of Education from Vancouver Island University. For two years, 2017 to 2019, I reigned as Comox Valley Poet Laureate. In that role, I facilitated numerous workshops, wrote by request and performed frequently, both alone and with other poets; a highlight was performing alongside George Elliott Clarke. While I have been creating art my entire life, I’ve done so more seriously in the last ten years. My art and poetry is informed by encounters with the animate and ever-changing world.

ELIZABETH RUSSELL / I was born in Calgary Alberta to Irish, immigrant parents. I lived in Bowser as a teen and Vancouver and London, UK as a young adult. I moved to the Comox Valley in 2003 to raise my son and to teach art at North Island College. I received a Diploma in Fine Art from Langara College, a BFA in Painting from Emily Carr University of Art & Design and a Masters in Combined Media from Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, UK. I am a conceptual and interdisciplinary artist who produces paintings, drawings, photography and installations. My art practice involves the creation of art works for thematic gallery exhibitions, as well as site-specific works and community based projects. I am interested in exploring themes such as migration, history and oral stories. I enjoy using scale along with unconventional art techniques and processes to create art works that relate to specific sites and locations. My art has been exhibited in solo and group presentations in cities across BC and internationally in London, UK and Bremen, Germany. I would like to thank North Island College for providing me with Professional Development to pursue this project.


ROMAN CHARITY Together the works explore an under-examined motive for discomfort with breastfeeding – that it is a powerful display of human interdependence. I am interested in how both the milk and the feeding relation effectively disrupt extant separations between sexuality and maternity, public and private, self and other on which our liberal individualist culture is founded. Some of the images depict mothers who have covered their faces instead of their breasts while breastfeeding. These works are based on photographs that circulated on social media in protest to admonishment that mothers should cover up while nursing in public. The series includes a number of self portraits. I intend my portraits of breastfeeding mothers who have covered up their faces to point to the fact that all disembodied public relations between ostensibly free and equal citizens presuppose private ones and indeed rely on their existence. This raises questions of value that affect all citizens – not just breastfeeding mothers and infants.

MILK PAINT I make my own paint from raw milk, sometimes incorporating expired human breast milk that would otherwise be thrown away. Casein protein in all milk is a non-toxic substance that carries lime-proof pigments and permanently binds to rigid, porous surfaces. Prior to the case in frescoes of ancient Egypt, a 2015 University of Colorado study revealed that milk paint was used 49,000 years ago before domestication of animals. (It is now considered possible that some cave paintings may have been executed in breast milk paint.) I am interested in how milk paint may refer to its own place within this larger context of art history. But more importantly, I see milk paint as a medium that is uniquely reflexive towards the history of women’s care labour in the domestic sphere. Utilizing this material was important to me as it esteemed the biological value of the milk and recognized the extended care labour by which breast milk it is expressed.

LAST NURSE (2018) is a series of three self-portraits executed in silkscreen on linen. The works are approximately 5’ x 5’ each. The images depict myself covered while nursing my daughter for the last time. To avoid stigma, lactating women often recreate domestic sequestration within the public sphere under nursing covers – the only instance in which Western women veil themselves. Discomfort with breastfeeding may arise from the fraught nature of human milk as a substance that is both nourishing and abject, or an inability to view breasts outside the scope of sexual gratification. My primary concern however, is to explore an under- examined motive for discomfort with breastfeeding – that it is a powerful display of human interdependence.

HEATHER PASSMORE / I hold an MFA from UBC and has exhibited extensively across Canada and internationally for the past fifteen years. My practice reconfigures painting, drawing and photography with socio-historically laden materials. I have completed five artist residencies and nine public artworks both locally and abroad. I am the recipient of numerous prizes and awards. My work is held in many private and official public collections such as the Vancouver Art Gallery. I am a founding member of Art/Mamas, a Vancouver-based collective of nine artist mothers with strong, diverse interdisciplinary practices. Group members include Gabriela Aceves-Sepulveda, Matilda Aslizadeh, Robyn Laba, Natasha McHardy, Maria Anna Parolin, Heather Passmore, Sarah Shamash, prOphecy sun and Damla Tamer. The collective formed in 2016 in response to a practical need to counter the denigration of motherhood within the dominant culture of art production which increasingly mimics a corporate model of production, marketing, PR and specialization. Art/Mamas exhibits locally and meets once a month to critique and discuss the work in progress of their members. Without understating the real structural constraints of parenthood on their individual practices, the collective aims to highlight the cultural relevance and artistic contributions of mothers and take a positive view of the multifaceted meaning, grit, commitment, insight, and knowledge that this position generates in their work.


I am a multidisciplinary artist who uses printmaking, installation and performance video to examine relationships between the body and the environment. My practice is concerned with the ways permanence and ephemerality impact both the natural and the human world. Interested in ideas around sustainability, my research proposes a subtle dialogue that lies somewhere between poetry and social awareness as I strive to highlight various ways in which our environments impact our lives. Currently I’ve been considering ideas around insecurity, homelessness, waste, garbage and privilege. The work that I have realized during the two residencies at CVAG and present here in the exhibition Uncover has been produced entirely from found and waste materials (mostly plastic), bringing the cost of production under $10.

NADINE BARITEAU / Born and raised in Montréal, Nadine Bariteau is a multidisciplinary artist whose graduated of Concordia University in Montréal. She obtained her Masters of Fine Arts degree at York University in Toronto. Bariteau has been teaching printmaking at OCAD University in Toronto for almost a decade. In 2017 Nadine converted a small bus into a mobile print workshop (Studio Coyote), and crossed North America giving workshops to various communities. She is currently living half time in the Comox Valley and Ontario. Bariteau has exhibited across Canada, and in China, Belgium, Argentina, Australia, the United States, Russia and Taiwan. Nadine has obtained several grants and awards and her work can be seen in private and public collections including the Shengshi Art Centre in Beijing, China, the National Taipei University of Education, Taiwan and the Frans Masereel Center in Belgium.

Nadine would like to thanks the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

CVAG events are free and open to the public. Donations are gratefully accepted.
More information is available at
or by contacting CVAG 250.338.6211 or email


The Comox Valley Art Gallery would like to acknowledge that we are located upon the Unceded Traditional Territory of the K’ómoks First Nation. CVAG recognizes the enduring presence of First Nations people on this land. 

CVAG gratefully acknowledges the support of Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, Government of Canada, Province of BC, City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, Comox Valley Regional District, BC Gaming, McLoughlin Gardens Society, SD71 Print Shop, Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, Nakeestla Bed & Breakfast, ABC Printing and Signs, and Hitec Screen Printing. We especially thank our volunteers, donors + members.