Vikky Alexander, snapped in Paris

The work of Visual Arts photography professor Vikky Alexander is getting some nice attention right now on the Vancouver online magazine Here and Elsewhere. (Run by Stephanie Rebick and Emmy Lee, who both work at the Vancouver Art Gallery, H&E offers an intelligent and engaging look at, as they put it, “what to see, eat, drink and do, near and far.”)

The H&E piece focuses on Alexander’s recent series of large-scale photographs, Island, which captures the collision between the lush foliage in Palm House (part of England’s famed Kew Gardens) and the wrought iron and glass building that contains it. As well as showing some of the photographs, there is also an interview with Alexander about her “ongoing fascination with our desire to experience the wonder of the natural world while simultaneously needing to control and tame it.” Rebick and Lee note that “her surprisingly enigmatic and surreal work has consistently evoked this tension between nature and culture in a range of manifestations including photography, sculpture and installation.”

Vikky Alexander, “Collision,” 2011, digital print on Epson Ultrasmooth Fine Art Paper, 40×60”, Courtesy of the Artist and Trépanier Baer Gallery

And it sounds like H&E are longtime fans: “We’ve followed Alexander’s work for years and were thrilled to have the opportunity to ask her some questions about recent developments as well as ongoing themes in her practice, and she very generously obliged.”

By way of introduction, Alexander says, “My work since 1986 has focused on the interaction/collision of architecture and nature, starting with Lake in the Woods installation (now in the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery) in 1986. I have been researching environments where that happens and a logical site for that interaction is in formal gardens.”

You can read the full interview here.

An island unto itself: London’s Kew Gardens

This follows Alexander’s participation in the recent C. 1983 Pt. II at Vancouver’s Presentation House Gallery, a two-part group exhibition about camera art in Vancouver during the 1980s. To quote the Gallery, C. 1983 highlighted “significant photographic practices that emerged in the vibrant artistic milieu of that period,” and included Alexander’s mid-’80s mass media-influenced Dreaming and Living series. As the Vancouver Sun described it, Alexander’s “found images from magazines and calendars are combined to produce striking images that recall bits of dreams remembered after waking up.”

The Victoria-born but Vancouver-based Alexander has been a professor here in the Visual Arts Department since 1992 and is one of Vancouver’s most acclaimed artists. Working as a photographer, sculptor, collagist and installation artist, Alexander is a leading practitioner in the field of photo-conceptualism and her work has been recognized within Canada and internationally in New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Europe and in the United States. She is represented by Calgary’s TrépanierBaer Gallery.

As her TrépanierBaer bio notes, Alexander’s work “explores the relationship between art, architecture and nature, and in particular the modernist tendency for incorporating landscapes into buildings and the notion of domestic utopia. She is interested in how nature is experienced in a consumer society, which she investigates in her photographs of artificial environments as well as her use of mass-produced decorator materials such as wood veneers, wallpaper murals of landscapes, and mirrors.”