"... I was able to make a simple gesture which left no permanent mark on the land."
In 1979 Marlene Creates signaled her intent. In contrast to the monumental earthworks of that time, she revealed that her interest in the intersection of art and the natural world was with the ephemeral, the small scale, and the non-monumental, and with place, "not as a geographical location," she writes, "but as a process that involves memory, multiple narratives, ecology, language, and both scientific and vernacular knowledge." Supplementing the impermanence of her artistic gestures with the technology of photography, Creates found an audience and created a body of work without peer.
Creates has sensitvely probed the relationship between human experience and the natural world for almost four decades. From her early works that record traces of the human body on the land to her later explorations of poetry in situ in the boreal forest and photography as an active medium — where the rush of water over the lens transforms the artist's own image — Creates leads us with an environmental and cultural consciousness to a greater understanding of the language of the natural world and our "places" in it.
It is no easy task to sum up, in a single book, a career that privileges the act over the artifact, the moment over the monument. But under the direction of curator-critics Susan Gibson Garvey and Andrea Kunard, Marlene Creates: Places, Paths, and Pauses offers not only a broad view of her work in photography but also a critical appreciation of her multi-disciplinary approach (assemblages, memory-map drawings, and video-poems) through essays by Gibson Garvey and Kunard, art historian Joan M. Schwartz, nature writer Robert Macfarlane, and poet Don McKay.
Marlene Creates: Places, Paths, and Pauses accompanies a major retrospective touring exhibition organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in partnership with the Dalhousie Art Gallery. It will open in Fredericton in September 2017 and thereafter will be shown at galleries in Halifax, Charlottetown, St. John's, and other venues in central and western Canada.