Telling Stories of Loss and Hope

Mixed media artist, Alice Vander Vennen, brings together diverse materials -- fabric, branches, wire, copper, stone -- creating assemblages that tell stories of both loss and hope.

As I've gotten to know many artists over the years, it has become clear that most share a commonality in their work. The most successful artists pull inspiration from deep within...some recreating experiences they've had, some sharing thoughts and values that drive them, while others use their work to make a statement about who they are.


Vander Vennen uses her work to capture stories of loss and hope, courage and strength, all stemming from the experiences of her parents.

She shares, "As the child of immigrant parents who came to Canada from war-torn Holland, I try to use my art to capture stories of loss and hope; courage and strength. Though I first trained in sculpture, I now work in three-dimensional assemblage, bringing together diverse materials -- fabric, branches, wire, copper, stone -- creating an assemblage as part of a visual language suggesting a story. The narrative speaks of gathering the work of divergent cultures, histories and generations."


When I asked Alice to share about a time her artwork made a difference for someone, she shared a very personal story about how her artwork connected her with a patron that shared her background of family that had faced such evil and responded with hope and resilience. This is how she responded...



"This one collector from Philadelphia, when they purchased my work two or three years ago, we shared histories -- my history of my people in World War II, hiding and providing refuge for Jewish people, and the history of their people fleeing Nazi Germany and relying on people for their safety. Even though we were strangers, we had a shared connection of resilience and resistance in the face of evil. My work is a tribute to that, in that I gather the work of people's hands (as seen in textile) and I place it together much like a poet would place together words. Three years later, he came back to tell me that he hangs his piece right outside his office, and whenever he feels like he needs a bit of an escape, he looks at the piece, for it carries him to different places. I like that concept of my art providing a sense of mystery for the unknown, and the concept of gathering stories from different cultures and peoples."


"Even though we were strangers, we had a shared connection of resilience and resistance in the face of evil."


Art has the ability to not only connect complete strangers, but through that connection, has the ability to help people heal. Come experience the power of art this weekend.


To learn more about Alice Vander Vennen, you can find her at: www.alicevandervennen.ca


You'll find Alice Vander Vennen in Space #53 at the Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show this June 7-9, along with 142 other artists ready to inspire you.

Written by Teresa Haag

Marketing Director Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Association

& Cityscape Painter