Nanaimo artist Willow Friday presents her new photo exhibition, Wanderlust, at Artzi Stuff from Nov 15 to Dec. 5. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo artist Willow Friday presents first photo exhibition at Artzi Stuff

‘Wanderlust’ chronicles Friday’s recent trip through the American southwest

This spring Nanaimo artist Willow Friday spent two months traversing the American southwest, notching 20,000 kilometres on her odometer and thousands of photographs on her camera.

“At the beginning of this year one of my goals was to take my photography to the next level and that would be sharing it, exhibiting it, improving it. All those things,” she said. “So I’ve actually gone on some pretty major adventures to acquire images to have to share.”

She’ll be sharing a selection of those images in her upcoming debut photo exhibition, Wanderlust, at Artzi Stuff from Nov 15 to Dec. 5. The show will also include photos from Nanaimo and Ireland and some experimental long exposure shots.

Friday said she’s road tripped to the American southwest 10 times in the past six years, drawn by her longstanding fascination with the canyons and formations caused by erosion on the landscape. She said the rivers can slice through the earth “like a butter knife.”

“That’s where you get these slot canyons and … these bulbous creatures and it’s all one unit but it’s folded in on itself and it’s these beautiful warm reds and peaches,” she said. “It fascinates me and you can kind of feel the time that it took. It’s like you can see Mother Nature gently using her hands and carving it out.”

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On this past spring’s trip Friday managed to visit a few sites she’s been meaning to see for years, including Nevada’s famous Fly Geyser and two rock formations at national monuments near the Arizona-Utah border: the sandstone Wave at Grand Staircase-Escalante and the remote White Pocket at Vermilion Cliffs.

Friday completed the trek on her own, camping on public land rather than staying in hotels. But despite driving the “loneliest road in the United States,” she said she enjoyed the peace and solitude. That’s when she does her best work.

“I love long stretches of time without talking and just thinking and observing and maybe listening to music but sometimes, no, just silence. I revel in it…” she said. “And when I’m just on my own and I’m in a place and there’s no one else around, I think I do my best photography in those situations.

Friday said it was difficult to narrow down her photos and make the selections for Wanderlust. She said she aimed for balance, picking works with equal representation of the four elements, in both colour and black and white and evocative of multiple emotions.

“I’m really hoping that I’m able to capture the energy of the land and shared it in a way that respects that and people see it as beautiful,” she said.

WHAT’S ON … Opening reception for Wanderlust by Willow Friday at Artzi Stuff, 2 Church St., on Friday, Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. Show continues until Dec. 5.

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