Last year was a bumpy one for many Bow Valley residents, including Banff painter Monica Ferrari. In fact, even a priest commented that something was off.
“He said something that ended in horribilis,” she recalls. “I thought that about summed it up.
“I went to bed early on New Year’s Eve and was woken up by the fireworks. I remember thinking, ‘Well, it’s over...’”
A series of family events that culminated in her father’s death just before Christmas last year shook her to the core. And despite her apprehension about 2011 and the winter that kept on giving, she’s dusted herself off, planted pansies and created Scatter the Darkness – a six-painting cathartic journey currently on display at the Banff Public Library Art Gallery during the month of May.
An opening reception with the artist in attendance takes place at the library from 7-9 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, May 6).
Images in the show are a varied assemblage of colours, feelings and subject matter that came to life in 2011, after her father’s passing. Most powerful pieces in the show include Blood Moon, a moody view of a lunar eclipse, barren Winter Solstice and Still Standing – large sunflowers struggling to remain upright under the weight of snow. From darkness to hope, Ferrari’s paintings show it all.
“I’m a little uncomfortable about it,” she shares. “It’s a side of myself I probably haven’t expressed in my paintings before.”
She’s also painted her version of a beautiful prancing two-toned horse from Belarus – what she’s coined her father’s only happy childhood memory.
“My father had a pretty tough life, especially the beginning and the end,” she says. “He said the middle part was the good part. This painting transported me back to what I knew of the story.”
Whether good or bad, happy or sad, Ferrari says that her work is influenced by whatever is happening in her life when the brushes meet the canvass. And painting is just as much a part of her as are her memories of her father.
“These things can end you. He wouldn’t want me to stop doing the things I love. So I might as well do what it is I like to do.”
And after the darkness, she’s beginning to relax again. Only days into May, she’s enjoying the sunshine on her deck, indulging in a glass of red, and opening herself to what will surely be a better year.
Scatter the Darkness is on display at the Banff Public Library until May 31.