In studio with Alana Archer: Cohesion in Chaos

In studio with Alana Archer: Cohesion in Chaos

A look at artist Alan Archer

  • Sep. 2, 2020 3:06 p.m.

~David Wylie~

Struck by sudden inspiration, Alana Archer quickly turned her house upside down, gathering the hodgepodge of items she needed to re-create an image of artist Frida Kahlo’s 1941 painting Me and My Parrot.

Instead of four brightly plumed birds, Alana posed with neon-green household products—including a jug of laundry detergent and a tub of dishwasher pods—perched on her shoulders and embraced in her arms. She substituted the cigarette between Kahlo’s fingers with a thermometer.

Archer posted her photo to Instagram and on the popular website Reddit, where it fast became one of the day’s top posts, viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

“I was hoping to just make people laugh for a little bit. The symbolism was there and colour was there,” Alana said. “The response was incredible. It just took off like wildfire.”

The Kelowna artist’s image was inspired by the Getty Museum Challenge, an online callout to re-create art using a small number of objects lying around the home. The challenge went viral during the first couple weeks of pandemic isolation, and social media feeds were populated with creative and funny interpretations.

People commenting on Alana’s posting quickly pointed out the reproduction was missing the original artist’s distinct unibrow.

“There was so much controversy about the eyebrows, and it was interesting how people were interpreting it,” said Alana. “Some people were taking personal digs at me and saying I completely missed the mark. I took it all with a grain of salt. It was fascinating seeing people’s spectrum of reaction.”

Inspired, Alana delved deeper into Kahlo’s art and re-created another piece, Self-Portrait with Braid. She included the unibrow this time and incorporated a PlayStation controller as the necklace. Alana’s play on that portrait was printed in People Magazine. Her re-creations were also featured through PBS NewsHour.

The exposure helped her pick up more fans and followers on social media at an important time in her art career—one that has involved going through her own transformation. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in her being laid off from her job in interior design. As a result, she switched her focus to her own art.

READ MORE: Brewing Success

“I’m keeping up with my personal projects. I’ve been running a separate art and painting company on the side for a few years. It’s been a bit of a hobby, but now it’s getting my full attention,” she said. “I think there’s lots of opportunity right now for people to just jump in and be a little bit entrepreneurial and make opportunities for themselves. And I think now, more than ever, people are wanting art to feel connected, and for things to be exciting again.”

She’s stayed busy on Instagram and her website, getting updates done that she had previously put off.

“Everyone’s getting really creative in different ways.”

Alana tries to express a humanitarian message through her work.

Her dad is from the Republic of Chad, in central Africa, and her mom is Canadian. They were “pretty nomadic,” she said.

“I was back and forth quite a bit throughout my childhood.”

Alana has spent time in France, Spain and Portugal—connecting with family and exploring. She said experiencing different places and cultures, especially Third World countries, has helped her appreciate things more.

Her dad worked in construction and she spent time around the different trades. Her mom enjoyed experimenting with artistic pursuits, switching up mediums often—from pastels to sewing.

“I got the best of both of their worlds, I think,” she said.

Alana pursued interior design after high school, studying at the Centre for Arts and Technology in Kelowna. Still, as much as she loved interior design, she found it incredibly fast-paced and detail-oriented. The construction side of the business also has its own inherent challenges.

READ MORE: Secrets and lives, and the 7 sins

“Having my layoff now, I’ve been given the opportunity to just dive full force into my own artwork,” she said. “I’ve been diving into a lot of resin art recently. It’s one of my more exciting mediums to play with because it has a mind of its own and it will not be controlled. It’s like watching a story unfold right in front of your eyes.”

Art using resin is a big investment of time and materials. There are multiple layers on top of each other that can be manipulated, or left to level out.

“It’s a material that you have to listen to. It’s definitely interactive. There are times it co-operates and times that it doesn’t. I’m still learning how to tame it. Everything has a lot of energy, a lot of colour.”

It’s also a delicate material; resin reacts to chemicals in the air and to temperature.

One of her more complex pieces is a round, abstract work with six materials creating cohesion in chaos. It plays together and reacts. Another piece, called Extraneous, was displayed recently as part of the Kelowna Art Gallery’s exhibition for local artists.

She’s recently been working on a 30-inch round birch canvas, layering it with resin and also incorporating mirrored glass.

All of the proceeds from this year’s sales of Alana’s art will be donated to the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.

For more information, visit alanaarcher.net.

READ MORE: A sit down with Peter Wood, of Bear and Joey Cafe

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Lifestyle

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ultra runner Jerry Hughes circles the track at the Cowichan Sportsplex as he nears the end of his six-day Canadian record attempt and fundraiser in November. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Six days on the Cowichan Sportsplex track for ultramarathoner

Record bid misses, but fundraiser a success

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Routley left off the list of NDP cabinet ministers again

Premier Horgan opts for some newcomers in key positions over experienced MLA

Protesters stand in front of a truck carrying logs to the WFP Ladysmith log sort. (Cole Schisler photo)
Protesters block entrance to Western Forest Products in Ladysmith

Blockade cleared by Ladysmith RCMP around noon, December 2

Cowichan RCMP rally against gender-based violence. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cowichan RCMP mark campaign against gender-based violence

16 days of activism runs until Dec. 10

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Most Read