By Natasha Ponda

Bone Marrow at the Burnaby Art Gallery is a visual and varied communication about the human fascination with the subconscious mind. In particular, our preoccupations with the visions found in our dreams, whether aspirational or subconscious manifestations.

When put together under the guided eye of curator Emily Dundas Oke, we can see the complex journey of exploring the shared experience of inner life, including projections of possible futures – where dreaming not only connects us to the past but to what lies ahead.

When walking into the show, Audie Murray’s striking work of mirrors and beadwork invites you to peer into its reflective opening. As the mirrors face each other, they create a Droste effect which feels like a tunnel asking you to look into a hollow necklace of echoed images. It gives way to the sense of moving into an alternative space, where the mirror symbolizes a portal as you follow the beaded floral-like string that hangs between them.
Flowers are an iconic Metis motif which Murray utilizes here, making them stretch out into an infinite tunnel. Beadwork is one of the major art forms of the Metis people and is considered a spiritual exercise that offers time for reflection and telling stories. Murray uses this tradition to explore aspects of her culture with contemporary curiosity around our consistent fascination with dreams. Through this work, the artist can give another perspective to traditional cultural practices with contemporary preoccupations. In many Indigenous cultures, dreams are considered a powerful source of spiritual guidance and inspiration. They are often viewed as a way for individuals to connect with the spirit world and receive messages from their ancestors. Using beadwork as her medium to portray these themes, it’s as if Murray is creating a communication line back to the voices she meets in her dreams.

The calm blue of an evening sky connects these pieces in a way that invites contemplation. This tranquil shade carries over to the works of Hana Amani, accompanied by hand-drawn touches of gold, and intricately detailed depictions of busy, kinetic scenes of creatures and feminine figures of mystic divinity. The many figures in each piece are engaged in movements and acts that draw the viewer in. Immense detail is packed into every millimetre of the paper, creating a spiral effect of images and lines encased into forms, layered on each other. Amani, a Sri Lankan-born visual artist, is described as a future folklorist. With her stylized aesthetic, she draws mythological women in Scheherazade’s Dream, a trilogy of etching prints that navigate a vernacular of sexuality, identity, and gender politics and how it influences our culture. In the context of the show, Amani’s work casts light on identity exploration through visual self-determination, using a power found in the dark of imagination.

“My recent work focuses on the raw and untamed nature of the feminine unconscious. I like to question and speculate on alternate ways women may occupy agency in our society.” – Amani in conversation with Scout Magazine.

Dream Marrow creates a collective dream experience that speaks to the universality of the subconscious mind. No matter the path we’ve already travelled, there are always new places we can visit and imaginations we can connect with. All within the comfort of introspection. As the gallery says in its exhibition descriptions, “Some of our oldest and most widely read tales grew from dreams. Dream Marrow, invites us to consider dream and storytelling as collective endeavours with the power to connect, liberate and subvert.”

Dream Marrow is showing until January 22, 2023, at the Burnaby Art Gallery.

From Metrotown Station, take the #110 Lougheed Station bus to the Burnaby City Hall bus loop, it’s a five min walk from there! You can also double-check your route with the Translink Trip Planner

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