Artist's work comes full circle


Jill Price joined Barrie's art community last summer. The move from London, Ont., is akin to coming full circle for an artist whose talent spans just about every aspect of the visual arts.

Opening a studio in the Lakeshore Mews is a culmination of a career that includes administration, running her own co-op gallery, working independently as an artist painting, drawing, curating, writing, teaching and even, in at least one instance, publishing. It is also a move back to working at art full-time.

When Price was a child, she was into athletics -- volleyball (her favourite), basketball, base-b all -- and even went to the nationals with a junior team. Everyone thought she'd would teach physical education. But there was an artist inside her waiting to come out. Drawing came first and at first, her work was only black and white. Figurative work followed. Her interest was in the roles men and women play.

"Working out your angst, how are you supposed to behave?," she said, adding that she was a tomboy who lived with her father and spent her time building things instead of getting involved in relationships.

She has had a certain amount of angst with art too and even tried to walk away from it a couple of times, but circum-stances -- the movie 9-1/2 Weeks -- and events, meeting her mother's birth mother, who was a painter in the U.S., inspired her return.

She enrolled in the University of Western Ontario fine arts program and set about acquiring her degree.

In 2006, she returned to the university's education program and following graduation landed a job at a London private school. Doing workshops with kids inspired her to teach and then teaching school children inspired her to return to art.

"I was just so inspired to see kids that talented. When you see you can make a difference who wouldn't want to teach? For some reason, it's easier to facilitate others in their pursuits than to name and take your own risks," said Price, who nevertheless left her job after three years of teaching when she moved to Barrie. "When you see what the kids could (do ) I felt I should be doing this for myself."

Now instead of feeling like she's falling further and further behind in her own art, Price has thrown herself into painting full time again. Angst still makes an appearance in her work although these days, it's more about what's happening in the world around her.

Price's last figurative work was a colouring/comic book called Barbie Goes to the Plastic Surgeon. Published under J.O.K. E -Jill's Only Kidding Enterprises in 2000, the storyline starts with Barbie, who is feeling her age after turning 40.

Since then, she's turned her attention to landscapes. Price's art continues to have meaning both personally and on a broader scale. She calls it social expressionism.

While she has tackled all kinds of subjects, her latest work is called 'Rural Transitions: London to Barrie and Back.' It was inspired by a helicopter ride with her husband, who works at Base Borden. The view captured her, along with the realization that farming continues to be the "fabric or backbone" of society.

Using a combination of acrylics, collage, fabric, plexiglass and reclaimed door panels, she's developed a series of works that show, for example, how language has changed from traditional farming to wind farms. 'Rural Transitions' opens next weekend in London at The Art Exchange.

Price also has work on display locally -- at The Creative Space in downtown Barrie (89 Dunlop St. E, Suite 201) as well as at her studio, 117 Lakeshore Mews.

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