Exhibit at The Reach down to the bones

Betty Spackman at her exhibit at The Reach.

Betty Spackman at her exhibit at The Reach.

Betty Spackman uses thousands of animal bones to help illustrate the impact of meat consumption in her latest installation piece.

The local artist explores grief and gratitude in Found Wanting, while tackling the multi-layered issues surrounding large-scale factory farming.

“My main intention is to reconnect the fact that there’s never a feast without a sacrifice,” said Spackman. “I’m not protesting or preaching. My job as an artist is ask questions and provoke people to think.”

The bones are mainly from domestic animals, which were found or given to Spackman over several years. Her collection includes cow skulls, bear hides, stuffed geese and seal bones. The remains are not intended to represent any kind of fetish, she explained, but rather evidence of animal sacrifice.

“We have this sanitized world in our North American culture,” she said. “You go to the store and get packaged meat with no relationship to an animal at all. It’s out of sight, out of mind.”

Spackman spent hours upon hours cleaning the bones with her art students at Trinity Western University. It was a grieving process dealing with decomposition and acknowledging death, she said.

The 2,500-square-foot multimedia installation exhibit appears as several rooms.

A Cantina combines a kitchen, laboratory, hospital, meat market and restaurant. In front of each cow hide stool at the bar are headsets with recorded personal journal entries, recipes, animal stories, children’s rhymes, hunting instructions and facts about factory farming.

An artificial bone yard features piles of bones paired with objects that speak to various social, political and economic issues.

The adjoining “Waiting Rooms” serve as a memorial to different animals.

“It is also about the disregard for life in general and the relationship between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans,” said Spackman.Found Wanting opens at The Reach Gallery Museum this month with three other new exhibitions.

In Canada, Myth and History, Winnipeg artist Diana Thorneycroft explores the notions of national pride and cultural ideologies while deconstructing mythological narratives. Her dioramic compositions of everyday life and historical events unfold against Canadian landscapes by the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson and Emily Carr.

Emerging artist Carly Bates interprets the emotional responses and feelings triggered by light in Everything But the Light. Her paintings reflect the different light fixtures from rooms where she grew up.

Historic downtown Abbotsford is the focus of Our Communities: Our Stories – A Day in Town. Artifacts, photos and stories recall the services and shopkeepers that made it the heart of the community.

The exhibitions open Jan. 27 with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. On Jan. 29, Thorneycroft gives an artist talk at 1 p.m. A panel discussion on Found Wanting follows at 2:30 p.m. For more information, call 604-864-8087 ext. 111 or email info@thereach.ca.