Are they portraits or landscapes? Wanda Koop’s exhibit The View From Here now on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery blends portraits and landscapes in a way that is intriguing. I’ve taken a half-dozen or so tours through the exhibit and kids love it. Wanda has created landscapes within a facial outline. Some are city landscapes like this one featuring the Manitoba Legislative building while others are clearly country landscapes.
One little girl told me the trees in this portrait/landscape looked like cuts that had been stitched up almost as if the person had been hurt and her injuries had left scars. Wanda places the ‘eyes’ in each work on the horizon line and other elements in the landscape act as the nose and mouth. The kids on my tours have great fun finding the various facial features. One boy told me the sun was the left eye in this portrait, the cloud to the right was the other eye winking, and the log was the mouth. I make sure the children know that Wanda is from Winnipeg and I tell them how her artwork has been seen all around the world in England, Holland, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Japan, India, China and the United States. I also tell them about Art City, the program Wanda started that brings artists and inner city Winnipeg kids together to be creative. After we’ve looked at Wanda’s eight huge paintings I give the kids a paper with a facial outline like Wanda’s and ask them to create a portrait/landscape of their own. The artwork Wanda inspires the kids to make is just marvelous. I’ve had children do portrait/landscapes for autumn, in outer space, at the beach, on a starry night and in the jungle. I need to bring my camera on some of my upcoming tours to take photos of the children’s innovative pieces in Wanda Koop style.