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VIU art student Christine Battye curates ‘Nudes’ show at Nanaimo Arts Council

Exhibit to feature work by Battye and fellow VIU artists Richard Harlow and Ben Sopow
Vancouver Island University art student Christine Battye is curating Nudes, an exhibition at the Nanaimo Arts Council. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Vancouver Island University art student Christine Battye is curating her first exhibition with the goal of encouraging a positive body image while bringing a historical practice into a modern setting.

The provocatively titled Nudes showcases paintings of the human form by Battye, fellow third-year VIU student Richard Harlow and recent graduate Ben Sopow. The show opens at the Nanaimo Arts Council on Aug. 2 and continues until the end of the month.

“I feel very privileged to have been able to showcase their work in such a professional standard because they work very hard at what they do,” Battye said of her fellow exhibitors.

She added that the three artists each have a different take on the subject matter. Harlow uses acrylic spray paint on canvas to give his pieces a “contemporary street feel,” while Sopow offers more “traditional” nudes.

“With the way my disability affects my artistic ability, I have a very abstract view of what the human body looks like,” said Battye, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.

“Because when most people draw or paint they’re standing straight up at the easel, where I’m eye-level to some of the people’s crotch areas, to be quite honest with you, and so a lot of it becomes very abstract. It’s not perfectly proportionate.”

She said the show came together quickly. After taking a course on art careers and curating, Battye and her peers were eager to put that knowledge to work. She was looking for venues around town to display their paintings when she met NAC general manager Dan Appel and arranged to hold the exhibit at the NAC gallery.

“I hope that people have a renewed appreciation for the human body,” Battye said of her curatorial debut.

“For what it naturally looks like without all the glitz and the glam that people often will see in airbrushed images and that they’re more willing to talk about it and it’s not such a taboo subject to see in someone’s house.”

Battye said having the opportunity to put on a show of their own work in a professional setting motivated her, Harlow and Sopow to elevate their work to a higher level.

“When you’re a student and you have a deadline it’s like you have two weeks to complete this piece and then you’ll get a mark on it and then never look at it again,” she said.

“But when you have something like this it gives you a sense to push yourself as an artist and to reach professional standards. And to quote one of my professors, ‘No one’s going give you an art career. You have to make it for yourself.’”

WHAT’S ON … Opening reception for Nudes, an exhibition featuring the work of Christine Battye, Richard Harlow and Ben Sopow, is at the Nanaimo Arts Council, 78 Wharf St., on Thursday, Aug. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. The show runs until Aug. 31.

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