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Birmingham and Nova Scotia-based artist Patricia Gaines give flowers pride of place in her most recent series of canvases. Referencing styles from the annals of art history, she lovingly inserts the botanical world into dreamily familiar scenes. Every painting has a story to tell, and these made us want to dip below the surface to learn more about Gaines’ work. We found her perspective inspirational, and share her own words below:”This series is a metaphor of new life sprouting from the old, the seemingly barren. Flowers are such exquisite creation. Artists and writers throughout time have been moved and inspired by them, by their beauty and fragrance and by their ephemeral nature. Marc Chagall once said, “Art is the unceasing effort to compete with flowers and never really succeeding.” I couldn’t agree more. In Contemplation there are two figures regarding a stem of purple lilies as if it was a miracle, and in my mind, it is! If not a miracle, then certainly something sacred and secret. Like nature, art is healing and has the capacity to shore up a shaky human spirit. We need it, as we do work, love, laughter, God. My work is my “soul work” and when I paint, I ask the universe to be complicit with me.”

Patricia Gaines’s newest work, a series of intricately constructed boxes, revisits familiar images from the history of art and recodes them for her own Surrealist inspired, spiritualist inclined, feminist oriented concerns. Introducing human hair into her multimedia images to startling effect, her work offers glimpses into a unique imagination that has been fertilized by travel to far away lands and distant cultures. The individual works transport the mind from Nova Scotia, where Gaines works for most of the year, to other possible places where a hybrid identity emerges, coalescing vital models of feminine beauty and power. — David Moos | Curator, Contemporary Art | Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto