Capturing the ripples

Local photographer Janessa Brunet unveils her Water Bodies exhibition

Janessa Brunet’s Water Bodies exhibition consists of photos she took this past summer. “Shoreline 2.” Janessa Brunet

“So, what are you going to do with that?”

The pointed question, asked with raised eyebrows and a cocked head, has become a thing of dread for arts students both past and present.

“I don’t really know what I’m doing the next day,” says local photographer and wunderkind, Janessa Brunet.

However, stepping into the abyss doesn’t seem to be the stuff of nightmares for Brunet, who approaches everything she does with trademark enthusiasm.

“I try to stay really positive,” she assures with her mega-watt smile.

A little optimism goes a long way. Brunet, who graduated with a BFA from the University of Manitoba with honours in photography, has dabbled in music, founded the Place for Peanuts drawing collective and currently works as the studio coordinator at Art City.

Art City has become a pillar in the West Broadway community by offering up a variety of free all-ages art workshops five days a week.

“The people of West Broadway are just so enthusiastic,” Brunet says.

I just want to show my art and have a party.

Janessa Brunet, photographer

It hasn’t always come easy though. When Brunet first picked up a camera after high school, she “took terrible, cliché photos of, like, dogs. Then I took terrible, cliché photos in art school. You have to do that.”

Even now, rolls away from those awkward beginnings, she still gets slapped with the harsh economic reality that plagues the Artist.

“As soon as you put a price on your work it becomes a commodity ... and then you have to find a demographic,” she says.

“I’ve dabbled in commercial photography but ... I’m not very good at it. I look at photography as my art practice rather than something I can make money off of,” she says about whether she’ll join the growing legion of self-employed photographers attempting to carve out a living in this city.

Brunet seems hyper-aware of the commercial wasteland created by mass-produced Ikea art, and the void that Instagram left. It’s not uncommon, she says, to be told: “Oh. Nothing matched our furniture so we’re not going to buy anything.”

“It’s a total reality check,” she admits.

Brunet is currently showing an exhibition of recent photographs titled Water Bodies at the Edge Gallery all month long.

Water Bodies explores that natural communion between bodies and this “utopia at the beach.” And those selected really embody “why we go to these places.”

In the end, “what are you going to do with that” isn’t the right question. It isn’t even the point.

“I just want to show my art and have a party,” Brunet says with a shrug.

Water Bodies runs until Thursday, Feb. 2 at the Edge Gallery, 611 Main St. View more of Brunet’s work online at

Published in Volume 66, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 11, 2012)

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