Memory can be abstract and cloudy or clear and concise. The brain maps its own path when recalling events, time, places, and faces of the past.
Vernon artists Angelica Jaeger and Diana Gritten have mapped out their own memories through a series of colourful paintings, currently being shown in the exhibition Memories Rooted at the Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum and Art Gallery.
“Remembering our roots can happen at any moment,” said Jaeger. “It only takes a small cue for our brain to reclaim these memories. Scientifically, our brain then encodes the experience, stores it and then retrieves the clue once it is triggered.”
Both women share similar experiences, in that they were born in different countries and came to Canada to start a new life with their families.
“We wanted the show to reflect where we came from, to remember our roots, and also our current homes here in the Okanagan,” said Gritten.
A longtime resident of Vernon who was born in Germany, Jaeger says the chance to paint for this show was like walking down memory lane.
“While recalling the spaces I lived and worked in, I found myself thinking of mapping out or retracting a situation or a place,” she said.
“Of particular interest for me was to intertwine my feelings for loved ones.”
Long acquaintances, Jaeger and Gritten both recently lost their mothers and have used painting as a way to heal from that loss.
“As we were getting ready for the show, I felt joy, creativity, and connection. The connection with my mom could be difficult, but I felt it was healing to go through this,” said Jaeger.
“The intent of this show. is to share my storehouse of experiences, feelings and learnings, by going back in time or living fully in the present moment.
“A lot of this has been about finding my way and searching for self. At the end, I felt I had made peace with that connection with my mom.”
For Gritten, it was a way for her to go beyond the eight-year journey as her mother’s memories faded from Alzheimer’s disease.
“It was an emotional journey for me, thinking about my mom,” she said.
For Gritten, painting also brought her back to her birthplace of Half-Way-Tree near Kingston, Jamaica.
“When we were thinking about our roots it took me on a personal journey. It made me think of my nanny,” said Gritten, who immigrated with her parents to North Vancouver at a young age and later moved to the Okanagan in 1973.
While painting, Gritten says she had flashbacks of her nanny, Iris, enveloping her into her arms, giving her comfort and safety. Other memories triggered included her mother playing Harry Belafonte records, her hips swaying to the music, and the turquoise and blues of the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans.
On the local front, Kalamalka Lake also found its way into her work, along with Canadian sunsets and forest, which she says bring mystery and intrigue, shadows and light to her work.
“Some of my work in the show features women with darker skin and colourful clothes. I have some pieces of African women and girls (painted in watercolour),” said Gritten.
Other works, including Jaeger’s, are described as abstract in mixed media and acrylics.
Also showing her abstract mixed media paintings is Vikki Drummond of Kelowna, whose exhibition Dear Diary is displayed in the ASMAG’s Freeze Gallery.
“It is a colourful show and is whimsical. There is not a lot of darkness,” said Jaeger.
All exhibitions continue to Sept. 5. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday and Sundays in August. The gallery is located at 3415 Pleasant Valley Rd., Armstrong.