Nanaimo artist Rod Corraini’s exhibition Lux, which details a near drowning he experienced in the Nanaimo River, is on display until the end of the month at Art 10 Gallery in the Nanaimo North Town Centre mall. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo painter’s near drowning inspires art exhibition

Rod Corraini presents ‘Lux’ at Nanaimo North Town Centre mall this month

Three years ago Road Corraini almost drowned in the Nanaimo River and the local artist is revisiting that moment in his latest exhibition at Art 10 Gallery.

It was a hot summer day when Corraini drove down to the river with plans of dipping his feet in the water. It had been many years since his last visit, however, and Corraini ended up taking a wrong turn that led him to a narrow, high-speed part of the river called the “gun barrel.”

“If you get caught in that you’re like a bullet going through a gun barrel,” Corraini said. “And that’s what happened.”

He slipped, fell over backwards into the water and was sucked down by the undertow.

Corraini’s art show is called Lux, the Latin world for “light,” because the one thing that kept him focussed instead of panicking was the sight of his glasses floating in a halo of light.

“I swam up there to get my glasses and then when I broke the surface I realized, ‘Gosh, what have I been through?’” he said. “I didn’t really realize that I was in trouble until I came to the surface.”

After dog-paddling for a while and unable to pull himself out, Corraini was finally rescued by a teenage girl riding an inner-tube.

“I said, ‘Can I get a hold of your inner-tube because I can’t go any farther?’ and she said, ‘Yes, mister. You went through the gun barrel. People die going through the gun barrel,’” Corraini said. “She was about 15 to 18 … and I’m this 50-odd-year-old guy and it was time for her to chastise me because I’d just done something really stupid.”

Corraini said afterwards he was moved to create a body of work based on those events.

“It is literally the most profound experience that I’ve ever had,” he said. “I thought life was kind of boring up until then.”

WHAT’S ON … Rod Corraini’s Lux is on display at Art 10 Gallery, Nanaimo North Town Centre, until the end of the month.

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