Twyla Exner’s latest collection of sculptural delights inspired by casiathane barnacles lead people to assume she grew up near the coast. ‘I didn’t step foot in the ocean until I was 30 years old!’ she exclaims.
Originally from Saskatchewan and now living in a beautiful forested area outside Prince George, British Columbia, Twyla draws from the image banks in her brain. Inspired by National Geographic photographs she saw as a child she explores the relationships between ‘other worlds’. Her sculptures reference nature, from the imagery of coral reefs, trees, fungi to microscopic bacteria and viruses with the aim of catching their evolutionary natural form within her sculptures.
‘It's a very sustainable way of making things”
Early in her practice she focused on environmental issues but this is just a part of her history with the materials she uses and the motivation to use recycled items. “It’s a very sustainable way of making things” she says. Ever since her professor at Concordia handed her ‘a chunk of telephone wire’ she has used gifted materials, the insides of desktop monitors or donated junk, magically unearthing rainbows of wires, previously encased in unattractive black and gray telecom cables that had a previous life adding her own energy to them.
Twyla is interested in the idea of electronic technologies gone awry, taking postconsumer items that have been manufactured by machines, intended to fit into our lives for convenience as a device for communication, transforming it with slow handmade processes to put meaning back into the objects.
Her recent works are made with repurposed wire, some have plastic components and all are brightly colored which she loves. Her technique has included crochet and embroidery; today she is making braids, which she sews and weaves while she free forms her work. The collection created for a recent exhibition, Morph in Okotoks, Alberta was hand sized but she does work on various scales, such as the 16-foot pod hanging in the workshop/studio that she shares with her partner who is also a sculptor. Her current project involves donated 20-foot satellite dishes embroidered with wire.
Covid has changed life a little for Twyla but on the positive side she has found new and interesting opportunities whilst connecting with other artists, developing her art practice and receiving support on the way from provincial Arts councils, Saskatchewan Arts Board, Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the BC Arts Council. She considers herself lucky to have had exhibitions at public galleries and has 2 exhibitions booked for the fall in Gallery 2, Grand Forks and Kootenay Gallery in Castlegar. A virtual tour of Morph is available on You Tube which showcases these fascinating forms.