April 19 – May 11, 2024

Samantha Harrison

Recreations of Myth and Spirit

Reception + Artist Talk: Friday, April 19th at 5pm

This series recreates mythological and religious figures as modern people of diverse backgrounds. These models are security guards, baristas, artists, computer programmers, and entrepreneurs, but in these paintings they become god-like. Each work attempts to match each model to different iconic figures based on a moment of perceived similarity, while also deliberately mismatching the models in other aspects of their visual characteristics, such as their perceived racial identity, or biological sex.

These portraits elevate and honour the individual, while encouraging the viewer to identify with these figures in a way that is more inclusive than historical works of the same narratives. What renders these ancient figures relevant –the god-like qualities which are most important to these figures– are in fact characteristics that are innately human. Serving as both recreations and re-creations, these paintings represent both new interpretations of old stories, as much as they represent a kind of play-acting between friends in which each model searches for themselves within the character that has been given to them.

For example, in the painting Nigel as Mars (God of War), the characteristics of the violent and driven Mars have been hinted at by Nigel’s wearing of a suit, and his possession of a chair leg which could serve as a weapon. The suit, being worn by many office workers, may at first seem mundane, but it is also a symbol of corporate and political power – the men who occupy high positions in business and politics wear suits, and these are the individuals whose decisions give way to various forms of violence. Simultaneously, a suit could be said to embody the more admirable characteristics associated with the god of war, such as success and discipline.

Samantha Harrison is an oil painter and recent graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design, living and working in Vancouver B.C., the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, theSḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Sə̱líilwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. She often works in a Hyperrealist or Classical Realist painting style, and is very interested in historical painting techniques.