A cropped image of Destanne Norris’s Crossing Over. Norris’s exhibition entitled Stellar is on display at the Vernon Public Art Gallery until Nov. 1. (Keylight Photography)

A cropped image of Destanne Norris’s Crossing Over. Norris’s exhibition entitled Stellar is on display at the Vernon Public Art Gallery until Nov. 1. (Keylight Photography)

Narrative paintings of the vast cosmos

Destanne Norris’s exhibition Stellar is on display at the Vernon Public Art Gallery until Nov. 1

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” -Albert Einstein

For local artist Destanne Norris, who has a solo exhibition entitled Stellar on display at the Vernon Public Art Gallery, Einstein’s quote rings true. The Armstrong-born painter has been involved in the arts her entire life, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1995 when her then 19-month-old daughter Leah drowned that Norris realized art was her future.

“That was the instigation to say, ‘I’m supposed to paint. This is my destiny,’” Norris said. “I nursed Leah the longest and felt an urge to keep Leah close to me. I had this sense something was coming, even that day.”

One of Norris’s first large-scale paintings in art school was of a young child dancing on the shoreline in shallow water.

“There was an unnerving edge to this painting — an ominous fiery shape pierced the darkened sky and pointed towards the unsuspecting toddler. I entitled this mysterious painting Electrogenesis,” Norris said.

Norris crafted other paintings prior to Leah’s birth that referenced water, a toddler, a nursing mother, and the physical location of Leah’s death.

“On the dreadful day she left us, in my screeching horror, I thought I created it,” Norris said. “But these paintings came flooding back to me.”

The collection of eight paintings, plus four more painted afterwards, were presented in an exhibition entitled Leah’s Gift in commemoration of her life on the first anniversary of her passing at Sunrise Galleries in Jasper, Alta.

With Leah’s Gift, Norris focused on the past, present, and future as it related to Leah’s story. Destined to move forward, Norris shifted her focus towards the future with paintings of landscapes, and eventually attended the University of Tasmania in Australia to polish her craft.

“I applied and got in and that changed my life,” Norris said. “I kind of honed in on the water — I think it was evoking back to losing Leah.”

As she delved further into the world of landscape art, Norris experimented with layering unique representations and imagery not often found in traditional landscape work.

After returning from Australia, Norris moved to Silver Star, where she drew inspiration from the view atop the mountain, and pursued a Fresh! AiR residency with the Caetani Cultural Centre and Allan Brooks Nature Centre.

“Through the project, a friend had passed,” Norris said. “As it happened, my project changed. I took the view from outer space.”

With the project, Norris’s ever-evolving style transitioned from her unique landscape perspectives to the galactic and existential work of Stellar.

“I thought I needed to go deeper into space,” Norris said. “It’s kind of the deeper thrust of my work.”

Using Hubble Telescope images and her own interpretation of imagery and ideas from scientific books, Norris’s departure into the cosmos depicts distant stars and nebula.

“It’s been really fun, this body of work,” Norris said.

But as Norris’s work transforms, the narrative-driven message of the body remains the same.

“I like to make connections with people using my art as a platform to share my story.”

Norris’s exhibition Stellar is on display at the Vernon Public Art Gallery until Nov. 1, with an opening reception July 27 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Just Posted

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D area. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control to Electoral Area D; director calls for respectful discussion

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

An Armstrong family that lost their home to a fire on Wednesday still hasn’t found their cat as of Friday, June 18, 2021. (Facebook photo)
Family cat still missing, days after fire destroys Armstrong home

There were no injuries from Wednesday’s blaze, but two days later there’s still no sign of the white feline

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read