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Three dynamic artists come together for one show at the Durham Art Gallery

xiaojing artist at durham art gallery

Pictured above, Xiaojing Yan with her piece In The Pond at the Durham Art Gallery at the exhibition opening July 22.


The Durham Art Gallery is running two adjacent shows with three artists now through September 10.

Originally from China, Xiaojing Yan now works in Markham and her Durham exhibition, titled Floating, fuses east and west with 3 dimensional theatrical pieces of sculptural forms that play off lighting and shadows and each other. 

Yan received her BFA at the Nanjing Arts Institute in Jiangsu, China in 2000 later acquiring her MFA in Sculpture at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2007.

Her piece, Aum, a sacred song from the Hindu religion, uses Star Anise pinned to the wall to form ripples, which echoes her adjacent piece In The Pond. “Aum is believed to be the first sound, the beginning of the world, the universe,” explained Yan at the exhibit opening July 22.

“[Aum] I created especially for this exhibition, it was more spontaneous,” she explained. “I was going to do something different but on my way here I changed my mind.”

Kim Kool and Sylvia Elliott’s works play off one another for the second part of the exhibition, In the Mix. Their mixed media works bring layers together illustrating the inner and outer depths of the human experience.

While Elliott’s work brings paint, encaustics, collage, mixed media and repurposed material together, each piece telling several smaller stories within a larger one; Kool’s encaustic painting uses playful and colourful shapes to align vulnerability and strenth.

Kool is relatively new to the Grey County region, having come from Kitchener-Waterloo five years ago. “We weren’t necessarily planning for here,” she said of her move. “But we wanted country property and… we found a house that we love.” She has taught workshops at the Durham Art Gallery and is in the process building her art practice.

Her piece Between the Lines was created to a Tragically Hip soundtrack. Kool said she had watched the nationally broadcast final show of their Man Machine Poem tour. “I threw on the [concert] playlist and The Hundredth Meridian was playing,” she said, adding that she uses bees’ wax with a damar resin for durability oil paint to create the colours.

Elliott lives north of Tobermory and although this was her first time displaying works at the Durham gallery, she has work in the co-op gallery in Ferndale as well as in Tobermory.

She said she feels like she’s always been an artist but gave herself permission in her 40s to start making art. “When I turned 40 I went back to school to study fine art,” said Elliott. “I do it because I have to do it, I do it when I can,” she said.

Elliott said she learns about herself through her art and her piece titled Interior is no exception. “It’s really about my interior,” she said. 

“It’s almost like a meditation,” she said. “It’s the completion of the piece, then I can look and say, ‘hey, I see aspects of myself.”

Isle Gassinger, Executive Director with the Durham Art Gallery said when she is putting a show together, she tries to visualize the space and wanted to connect someone locally with Yan’s work to complete the exhibit. She said that in addition to bringing work already in their portfolio, both Kool and Elliott created new work for the show.

The Durham Art Gallery is located at 251 George Street East and is open Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday 1 to 4pm and on holidays from 1 to 4 pm.

Sylvia Elliott with paintings
Sylvia Elliott with her piece Interior at the Durham Art Gallery opening July 22.

Kim Kool beside her art
Kim Kool with her piece, Between The Lines at the Durham Art Gallery exhibition opening July 22.

Xiaojing Yan artwork on the wall
Xiaojing Yan’s Aum resembles ripples in a pond and was created using Star Anise, a star shaped fragrant spice common in Chinese, Malay and Indonesian cuisine.

Silvia Elliot painting
Sylvia Elliott’s A Day in the Life brings the micro and the macro together on one canvas.

Kim Kool encaustic painting
Kim Kool’s Emerge is created with bees’ wax, damar resin and oil paint.


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