There is still time to experience the rich, textured, thoughtful paintings of Dana Boettger, showing now at Arts on Queen.
Boettger’s work often draws on themes like home and heartache, with attention in recent years to the treatment of Canada’s Indigenous, including the breaking of the land by settlers and the concept of Terra nullius, meaning “nobody’s land”, a term used to describe territory which has never been subject to the sovereignty of any state.
Over the years, her practice, rooted in landscape and nature, has naturally evolved to become more abstract as she accessed the emotional language of colours and incorporated various media, like liquid cement.
“You have to work really fast (using liquid cement). And it takes paint in a really wonderful way because it’s so porous,” said Boettger, speaking at her show opening October 1. “And you can never tell in the end what you’re going to get.”
The result is a spirited, striking body of work, with pieces that catch the eye and draw the audience in deep.
Her current show, Things That Will Change You Forever, expresses “the heartbreak of personal and historical events that have affected lives and altered destinies.”
While Boettger’s work is concerned with the strife inflicted on others, Boettger’s personal story carries its own life-altering moment – the building holding her studio burned down last year, destroying decades of artwork, and her sanctuary.
“I had to start over,” she said, noting she had to overcome a huge mental block to move where she’d created her work for 20 years “in utter privacy and isolation.”
She started painting in her garage at home. “Me and the lawnmower as a muse,” she said – a muse that proved beneficial when working on one of the show’s standout pieces, Prairie Breaking.
The painting depicts the first shearing of the prairies, a large metal instrument piercing and snipping virgin, thatched grass. Boetter said she was working on the piece and wanted it to give it more texture – so she reached down and grabbed some grass from the lawnmower, grass that is now under layers of paint.
Arts on Queen is located at 2198 Queen Street East. Things That Will Change You Forever runs until the end of November.