This body of work by Yvonne Vander Kooi explores family history from pre-war colonial Indonesia, World War ll, and subsequent migration to Holland and Canada. Drawing on personal memories as well as imagery sourced from old black and white photos, the paintings expand on suggested narratives. The work considers shifting perceptions of the past and how stories change as they are shared in the present.
Creating this work involved research and exploration and opened up new understandings about the artist’s family and how it has adapted across time and place. Translating the image from photo to canvas raises questions in the mind of the artist and the viewer. In this way the story is altered while remaining anchored by the facts of the events and challenges that have shaped her family across generations. A family moves through time as a changing, adapting organism and these paintings serve as both a record and a contribution to an evolving story.
Paint allows the artist to bend narrative, explore possibilities, and shape her perception. Through experimentation, evocative imagery emerges as the palette shifts and changes from turquoise and pastel to fluorescent pink and saturated yellows. The surfaces are worked, layered, scuffed, scraped, and stained adding complexity and visual interest. A balance of figurative and abstract elements, along with a sensual use of colour, creates work that is vibrant and contemporary.
Yvonne Vander Kooi's art practice has embraced community, collaboration, education, public art and studio work. Born and raised in Ontario, she received her BFA in Michigan, and has lived in Toronto and Vancouver. She currently lives in Nanaimo with her family and two dogs. She has participated in numerous group shows and in public art projects here on the island and has work in private and corporate collections. She currently works as the Art Education Coordinator at the Nanaimo Art Gallery. Yvonne's work invites us to consider stories about people, places, and movement that are both personal and universal.