Nanaimo artist Shawnda Wilson’s Jacana No. 1 is among the paintings she’ll have on display in her upcoming show at the Nanaimo Musuem. (Photo courtesy Shawnda Wilson)

Nanaimo artist Shawnda Wilson’s Jacana No. 1 is among the paintings she’ll have on display in her upcoming show at the Nanaimo Musuem. (Photo courtesy Shawnda Wilson)

Painting exhibit inspired by long-toed birds and jazz coming to Nanaimo Museum

Nanaimo artist Shawnda Wilson’s show ‘When Charles Speaks’ opens next week

Nanaimo artist Shawnda Wilson’s latest body of work is inspired by a tropical wading bird and a renowned jazz composer.

From Jan. 11 to Feb. 28 Wilson presents When Charles Speaks at the Nanaimo Museum. The exhibition features a series of pen and watercolour paintings of the jacana, a bird notable for its long toes used to spread its weight to walk on marine vegetation.

The idea for the show came to Wilson as she was writing a poem about listening to the piano music of Charles Mingus.

“I thought, ‘God, he must have had the longest fingers in the world to be able to play the piano like this,’” she said. “And so I was trying to research an animal to compare him with that had really long fingers and I discovered the jacana bird, who have the longest toes of all animals. Their toes can grow sometimes twice the length of their entire body height.”

While looking into jacanas, Wilson said she “fell in love” with them and their appearance. One painting led to 10, which led to When Charles Speaks. It’s her first exhibition at the Nanaimo Musuem, and as she’s primarily a portrait painter, it’s also her first animal series.

Wilson said she’s been gradually “veering” away from portraits. This summer COVID-19 isolation prompted her to create a series of self-portraits that grew so large that she felt like she needed a break.

“I think it came out to be 50 or 53 self-portraits and I was like, ‘OK, I am done with portraits for a while,’” she said.

She describes her jacana paintings as “very contemporary watercolour,” with realistic birds on expressionist backgrounds designed to resemble the landscapes they inhabit around the world. Wilson was listening to Mingus throughout the process and she said the music rubs off on the paintings.

“I think it influenced them very much,” Wilson said. “They’re colourful. There’s a lot of personality to each one. They feel jazzy.”

WHAT’S ON … Shawnda Wilson presents When Charles Speaks at the Nanaimo Museum, 100 Museum Way, from Jan. 11 to Feb. 28.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Art

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Letter writers weigh in on the City of Nanaimo adopting ‘doughnut’ economics as a guiding principle for decision-making.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: City of Nanaimo’s ‘doughnut’ has to be more than empty calories

Letter writers react to city council’s recent decision to adopt ‘doughnut’ economic model

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a car and a minivan Saturday afternoon at the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
One person taken to hospital after crash in north Nanaimo

Car and minivan collided Saturday at the intersection of the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive

Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization, a non-profit, seeks to raise $8,000 for a play structure to help children remain active during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization asking for help fundraising for play structure

Physical activities have been limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, says non-profit

Police in Nanaimo hope to find the owner of a Giant Reign mountain bike that was seized after a man was spotted riding it without a helmet on the wrong side of the road on Christmas Eve. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP suspicious to find expensive bike covered in layer of duct tape

Police looking for owner of Giant Reign mountain bike that they believe was stolen

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker causes pain and damage at downtown Nanaimo gym

VIDEO: Suspect breaks fire alarm, slams door on business owner’s foot after attempting to defraud her

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a car and a minivan Saturday afternoon at the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
One person taken to hospital after crash in north Nanaimo

Car and minivan collided Saturday at the intersection of the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive

Cyclists pick up swag and cycling trail maps at city Bike to Work Week ‘celebration station’ a few years ago. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo’s active transportation plan will be about more than infrastructure

City working on goals to double walking trips and quintuple cycling and busing trips

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam at a press conference last year. (Canadian Press photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Better federal vaccine planning badly needed

Why hasn’t Parliament done more to protect seniors and care homes, asks letter writer

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Kinsmen Participark in Beban Park will be closed next week so city workers can remove dangerous trees and invasive plant species. The work is the start of an improvement project that includes replacing signs and fitness stations in the spring. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo fitness park to close for removal of hazard trees and invasive plants

Tree cutting to start in Beban Park’s Kinsmen Participark as part of improvement project

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Most Read