WAC's latest offering Off the Wall

Willi Richardson’s art exhibit at Winkler Arts and Culture features around 30 pieces. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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Winkler Arts and Culture’s newest exhibit shows that art can be more than just a painting on the wall.

Off the Wall means that Richardson’s art collection isn’t just made up of standard paintings. “I don’t believe that art should just be an image on the wall,” Richardson said. “Art should be expressed with every part of your being. I don’t do all of my pieces on the standard canvas.”

“Off the Wall, that’s me,” she added. “I don’t plan my art. When I do a piece, I start and it just empowers me and I go for it. There is no imagery that gets me moving with it, I’m inspired by what I see or feel.”

The exhibit featured around 30 pieces, including glass pieces and paintings using pieces of wood and other things as canvases.

This was Richardson’s first time displaying her art in this gallery setting. “I like to do live shows, so when I’m working with other people I like to do art and have them get in there and get their hands dirty and enjoy the different mediums as well,” she said. “This is a little different where the pieces are already done, I don’t have to do things with them.”

Richardson said she has been asked before if it’s hard for her to give up her pieces. “It’s definitely not hard,” she said. “You know that you’re going to do something and it’s going to go home with somebody that relates with that piece.”

Richardson has been making art for as long as she can remember. “I was inspired from my very young days,” she said. “My father was very much into art as well and worked for a studio out of Vancouver.”

Her father did the backdrop for movies like The Littlest Hobo and The Cave.

“It was all part of what we had around the house,” Richardson said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of money so we had to use the products that we found, [like] burning wood to make charcoal, finding the right kind of rock to make sediments to mix in to get your colours.”

When Richardson was in high school, actor and chief of Tsleil-Waututh Nation Chief Dan George spoke at her school and provided more early inspiration for her. “He talked a lot about how to get inspired by what you see and how to work with what you have,” she said. “He’s the one that actually put me on the mark with working with graphite and sulfurs and things like that.”

Many of Richardson’s pieces reflect nature, and she said she draws inspiration from the natural world around her. “I literally do not watch TV or anything,” she said. “I get inspired by going out and sitting outside, or going for a drive and recognizing the sunsets.”

All of her pieces are meaningful, but Richardson said one piece, 24 Hours of Serenity, had special meaning. The piece depicts a lake during a 24 hour span of time, painted on a piece of wood. “I was going through a very rough time in my life, losing my husband and my parents,” she said. “My daughter took me to Kenora for a weekend and it was just great to get away. That’s what inspired that piece. I am inspired by what I see and what I go through, and that one does stand out to me.”

Richardson also had some advice for aspiring artists. “The thing that I hear a lot is, ‘I can’t,’ ‘I don’t because I can’t,’” she said. “If you actually use those words, you are holding yourself back. I think everybody can and I challenge anybody who really feels they can’t, come see me.”