The mixed media work ‘Long View’ might look abstract, but it is intended to evoke an ‘imagined landscape’

We might all live in the same place, but we experience the place differently. We have our own views, our own perspective — our own vision of what we want it to be, our memories of what it used to be. We share the common elements, but we shape them into a place that’s ours alone.

While the work “Long View,” above, might look abstract, it is intended to evoke an “imagined landscape,” says the artist, Joanne Shenfeld. “The vertical orientation gives a sense of depth and the feeling of climbing up an incline,” she says.

Her work is mixed media: she used embossed tissue paper and incorporated acrylic, translucent skins made from used palettes. The effect, she says, created areas of layering that looked like stained glass.

By using that method, incorporating different surfaces and colours and images, the work becomes something unexpected. Each work, she says, is unique, even if the same elements are used in the same way.

“Life is full of unexpected twists and turns,” notes Shenfeld. “The joy and challenge of living is being open and responding to what time and circumstances bring us. Part of what happens and how we live is under our control, but much is also beyond us and takes us by surprise.”

Shenfeld is one of 20 artists in a new exhibition titled “The City of Dreams,” the work intending to explore an imagined city. As curator Philip Anderson notes, “We can close our eyes and wonder what our neighbourhood will look like after the pandemic. Will we still social distance? When will a hug and a handshake come back?”

Our own experience of the city informs what we miss during lockdown; our memories inform what we hope it will be once again. We can take this time to create in our own imaginations the city of our dreams.

Deborah Dundas