Whitney Lewis-Smith

Kostuik Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new photographs; heliogravure editions, and copper etchings by Canadian artist Whitney Lewis-Smith entitled “The Overview”.

“This body of work began as an investigation into space travel and the ways in which it is changing us. A select few human beings have been gifted with seeing the whole Earth from space, back dropped by the blackness of the universe. For each of those people the experiences have been unique, but the perspectives they acquired have been collectively expansive. Breaking the bonds of Earth has proven to be a more important leap than the technology it took to get there. While human evolution as a result of travelling further into space seems inevitable, the universe beyond our earthly origins remains, for most, the heavens; a last frontier where we can dream freely about what it means to exist. After the loss of my father this year the ideas in this body of work and their confluence have offered a tangible sense of contact with the connectedness of all things.” – Whitney Lewis-Smith

Lewis-Smith is preoccupied with our modern relationship to the natural world and uses a combination of historic and modern photographic techniques to document her meticulously built still life tableaus. Each image, from sustainably sourcing to building to the photographic image, may take up to 3 months to articulate. She hand coats her negatives on panes of glass in a tactile and delicate three-day process. Their sensitivity is extremely low (around ISO 1 or 2) meaning that the photographs are created over a long period, sometimes hours. Imperfections and watermarks are intentional, creating both movement in her composition and an otherworldly quality.

Artist Information

Artist Website: whitneylewissmith.com

Splitting her practice between British Columbia and Mexico City, Whitney Lewis-Smith works primarily with 8x10 dry plate photography and elaborate studio sets. She continues to examine Biophilia, a term coined by renowned psychologist Erich Fromm, describing how humans possess an innate tendency to seek connection with nature and other non human forms of life.

As of 2008, The United Nations stated that more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and the average pre-teen recognizes more video game characters than common wildlife. Drawing on this global shift, Lewis-Smith uses her practice to contemplate the possible evolutionary mutations for humanity and our changing relationship with the natural world.

Lewis-Smith documents what today can easily be amassed in the flesh, highlighting how globalization impacts the way we interact with the world around us. By depicting scenes that will one day become an impossibility, Lewis-Smith asks the viewer to recognize our current time as a passing moment. With a background in scientific fieldwork, her participation in various expeditions and access to museum collections (The Museum of Natural History in Puebla, Mexico, museum of nature, Ottawa) became a catalyst in her ability to create large format tableaus.

Most recently, Whitney made a dramatic transition shifting the majority of her studio work from Mexico City to remote British Columbia, Canada. During this time, she was invited to live and work as artist in residence at Nimmo Bay resort in The Great Bear Rainforest. Amidst this transition she also lost her father. At Nimmo Whitney began exploring the ways in which human beings find connectedness and a sense of home. She also aided in cultural and scientific research with the First Nations guardian program and continues to do so. These ideas were the early beginnings that developed into concepts for this current body of work, The Overview.

Collectors in Canada and abroad include Global Affairs Canada, The Honourable Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau’s collection, SUMMA Art Fair Madrid, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Maison Simon’s collection, and the Ottawa City’s Public Art collection. Lewis-Smith studied Studio Arts at Concordia University focusing on drawing and sculpture.

Residence: Vancouver Island, BC

Born: 1985, Ottawa, Canada

Education

2011     Diploma, Photography, The School of Photographic Arts, Ottawa

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2024     The Overview, Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, BC

2023     The Overview, Galerie St-Laurent Hill, Ottawa, ON

2022     Artist Residency, Nimmo Bay, Mount Waddington, BC

2021     From Here at the Threshold, Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, BC

2019     Underbrush, Permanent Large Scale Installation for COMMON GIRL, Ottawa, ON

2018     The Impossible, St. Laurent + Hill Gallery, Ottawa ON

2018     ONTOGENY, The SPAO Centre Gallery, Ottawa ON

2018     Heloigravure, Zopilote Inc., Mexico City, Mexico

2017     TRANSFIX, St. Laurent + Hill Gallery, Ottawa ON

2014     Natural Fascinations, La Petite Mort Gallery, Ottawa ON

2011     The Amarantos, La Petite Mort Gallery, Ottawa ON

Group Exhibitions

2021     Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle, WA

2021     The Anatomoy of Oddity Studio Series Group Exhibition, Mexico City, Mexico

2021     Clavo Movimento for CDMX Art Week, Casa Versalles Cultureal Centre, Mexico City, Mexico

2021     Botanicus Group Show, Roq La Rue Gallery, Seattle, WA

2020     A New Light: Canadian Women Artists Presented by The Embassy of Canada in Partnership with Canada

Council for the Arts, Embassy of Canada, Washington, DC

2020     Exposicion Colectiva de Los Residenes de Cobertizo, Jilotepec, Mexico

2020     Casa Pixan for CDMX Art Week, Mexico City, Mexico

2019     TERRAMATTER, City Hall art Gallery, Ottawa ON

2019     Plastico Arqueologico, Circulo Cubano de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico

2019     Light and Dark Drives, El Consultorio, Mexico City, Mexico

2018     VESSEL: On Gender, General Assembly Collaborative Production Space, Ottawa ON

2017     Contact Photo Festival, Arta Gallery, Toronto ON

2014     Part Stradivarius/Part Scalpel, School of Photographic Arts, Ottawa ON

2014     The Black and White Show, Cube Gallery, Ottawa ON

2014     Developpe (third Edition), National Arts Centre, Ottawa ON

2014     Emerging Artists in Public Collections, Wall Space Gallery, Ottawa ON

2014     The Infidels, La Trampa Grafica, Mexico City, Mexico

2013     Post Mortem, La Perrera Arte, Santiago, Chile

2013     The Art Zoo, Nuit Blanche, Ottawa ON

2013     Systems of Identity, Studio 66, Ottawa ON

2013     The Three Show, Exposure Gallery, Ottawa ON

2012     Developpe, National Arts Centre, Ottawa ON

 

Art Fairs

2021     Este Arte Fair, Uruguay, Virtual

2020     Context, Art Miami, Virtual

2019     Expo Pixan, Bucareli 69, Mexico City, Mexico

2016     Summa Contemporary International Art Fair, Madrid, Spain

 

Awards/Residencies

2021     Nimmo Bay Lodge, Great Bear Rainforest, Artist Residency

2020     Cobertizo International Resident by Invitation, Jilotepex, Mexico

2019     Production Residency in Colour Heliogravure, Zopilote Inc., Mexico City, Mexico

2019     Inaugural Commissions Program Selectee, The Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa, ON

2018     Ontario Arts Council Production Grant, Biophilia

2018     The Royal Bank of Canada’s Emerging Artist Award, Finalist

2018     Ottawa Art Gallery and SAW Gallery Production Grant

2018     Mexico City Arts Residency

2014     The Arquetopia Foundation for the Artist Residency

2013     Canadian National Magazine Awards Norminee in Portrait Photography Category

2010     Embassy of France’s Concourse Visa pour l’image: Perpignan, Finalist

 

 

 

 

Biography

Living in British Columbia, Whitney Lewis-Smith, is a photo-based artist who works primarily with 8×10 glass plate negatives and elaborate set building. She continues to examine Biophilia, a term coined by renowned psychologist Erich Fromm, describing how humans possess an innate tendency to seek connection with nature and other forms of life. As of 2008, The United Nations says more than half of the world lives in cities and the average pre-teen recognizes more video game characters than common wildlife. With today’s accelerating technological advancements Lewis-Smith has become preoccupied with the evolution of humanity’s relationship with the natural world. During a production residency at The Museum of Natural History in Puebla, Mexico she worked with specimens that became a catalyst in her ongoing discussion of consumerism and the environment. Lewis-Smith uses the photograph to document what can now be amassed in the flesh; by internet purchase or otherwise, highlighting how globalization impacts the way we interact with the world around us. By depicting scenes that will again become impossibility, Lewis-Smith asks the viewer to recognize our current time as a passing moment.

Most recently, Whitney began a major transition moving from Mexico City to The Great Bear Rainforest. During this time, she lived at Nimmo Bay resort where she further explored ideas of connectedness and home while she aided cultural scientific research with the First Nations guardian program. She also developed concepts for the current body of work, The Overview. Her time there is on going; returning in the Summer 2024 to continue the site-specific projects she started in 2022.

Collectors in Canada and abroad including Global Affairs Canada, The Honourable Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s collection, SUMMA Art Fair Madrid, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Maison Simon’s collection, and the Ottawa City’s Public Art collection have acquired Whitney’s work. Lewis-Smith studied Studio Arts at Concordia University focusing on drawing and sculpture.

2024 – The Overview – Here

2021 – From Here at the Threshold – View

https://www.cbc.ca/arts/exhibitionists/whitney-lewis-smith-wants-you-to-see-magic-in-nature-so-she-s-bringing-it-to-you-1.5313386

https://www.ottawaathome.ca/living_article.php?articleID=615

https://ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/local-arts/animals-mirrors-and-magical-mushrooms-added-to-ottawas-art-collection

Matching local artists’ works with stunning home decor — Whitney Lewis-Smith

https://nac-cna.ca/en/stories/story/dancers-and-photographers-collaborate

1070 Homer Street,
Vancouver, BC, V6B 2W9, Canada

T. 604.737.3969
E. info@kostuikgallery.com