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Peering through the lens of a dress
New exhibition features 100 paintings inspired by the village

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, July 12, 2012

The latest exhibition at the OSC Gallery in Fort Simpson offers images village residents should be able to relate to.

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Whitehorse artist Nicole Bauberger spent 11 days in Fort Simpson creating 100 encaustic paintings inspired by the community. The paintings are on display as part of the 100 Dresses for Fort Simpson exhibition at the OSC Gallery. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

The exhibition, titled 100 Dresses for Fort Simpson, is comprised of 100 encaustic paintings that somehow involve dresses. Whitehorse artist Nicole Bauberger created all of the paintings between June 22 and July 2 while she stayed in the village.

Each painting was inspired by something Bauberger saw or experienced while in Fort Simpson. In the paintings, dresses are looking for rides, lining up for feasts and driving motorboats while other dresses are formed out of floating cottonwood fluff or two ravens standing together.

This is the 16th 100 Dresses project Bauberger has created. Bauberger had been using dresses as images in a lot of her works, but in 2007 she decided to paint 10 dresses a day for 10 days at her studio in Whitehorse.

"At dress 40 you are out of ideas," she said.

This scarcity of ideas caused Bauberger to look around and take inspiration from anything ranging from the weather on the way to the studio to the packaging of a cookie from Subway. After the exhibition was completed and displayed, Bauberger said she realized 100 Dresses was a landscape project that expressed a particular place and time, including the human landscape and the human response to it.

Since then, Bauberger has created 100 of these dresses projects in a variety of locations, including Dawson City and Inuvik. In each location, Bauberger draws on the experiences of the people who live in that community.

"Every time and place I do it in it's different," she said.

Bauberger said she is interested in the moment when someone stands in front of an artwork and they somehow connect with it and a spark jumps the gap between them and the work. By using common ground, the chance of that spark being created increases, she said.

While in Fort Simpson Bauberger painted at the Visitor Information Centre, at the papal site and the recreation centre.

In each location she invited people to paint with her and have their dress included in the exhibition if they wanted.

Thirty-one guest dresses are now part of the exhibition. Every person's name that is written on the wall beside their painting becomes part of the human landscape of the show and gives more connection to the exhibition, said Bauberger.

Bauberger said it was a privilege to paint in Fort Simpson.

"It's a very special place," she said.

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