For some, questions of creation and what lies beyond can be a legitimate source of stress and anguish. For local artist Lori Ferguson, it’s just fuel for the fire.
“When you leave behind a whole belief system, you start to think a lot about what (you) believe and what is out there,” Ferguson says.
Before settling into the role of a fulltime artist, she was once a Christian and served a brief stint in ministry, among other things.
“I started off working in marketing in an office. I was a harpist and played weddings and funerals, and after that, I got into the church world. I fell away. I no longer believe any of that, so I left the church,” Ferguson says.
This existential quandary birthed Ethereal, her newest exhibition at local gallery cre8ery. On display from March 2 to 14, the series of oil paintings are meant to “express humanity’s ongoing search for something beyond the ordinary struggle and grit of everyday life.”
“Right now, I’m in a period of wonder. I’m looking at humanity and the things I experience around me,” Ferguson says.
“There’s just this thing within us that’s always searching for something beyond ourselves and something greater and more beautiful, and I think that’s just a question for me. Why as humans do we need something greater than ourselves? We look around at reality, and it’s lacking, the brokenness.”
Ferguson characterizes Ethereal’s oil paintings as “angelic” and notes the evolution of her own style.
“In this exhibition, my work is much larger. Previously, my art was very dark in colour. Dark and, at times, angry. I think I really let that go. For the first time, my work right now is very light and airy and more beautiful than it used to be. That’s part of the title I came up with in Ethereal,” she says.
Jordan Miller, cre8ery’s owner and executive director, notes Ferguson’s immense progress since the pair first collaborated in 2017.
“I’ve never seen such growth. This show Ethereal is a lot of really vibrant, floral pieces. I love her style because it’s so free-flowing, and it has great spirit and energy behind it. There’s something just exciting about her brushstrokes and how she manipulates the paint on the canvas. It’s so incredibly playful,” Miller says.
Like most modern artists, Ferguson hopes aesthetes will each derive their own interpretations and appreciations of her pieces.
But she emphasizes the engaging element of visiting the art gallery in person that makes the work that much more personal.
“What I really love and always hope for is when people come in person and experience an exhibition and art. There’s a lot of emotion and almost a spiritual connection that you can make with a piece of art,” Ferguson says.
“I just hope they connect emotionally with the art, and it moves them in whatever way is good for them and works right for them. I think good art will do that.”
Ethereal is on from now until March 14 at cre8ery (125 Adelaide St.). For hours of operation, visit bit.ly/3kuK4Jv.
Published in Volume 77, Number 20 of The Uniter (March 2, 2023)