When We Were Young (2016)

These paintings were created for a group exhibition titled "When We Were Young," curated by Xanthe Isbister for the Alberta Foundation of the Arts Travelling Exhibition program (TREX). Including work by Susan Knight, Wendy Struck, Safira Lachapelle, Kat Valenzuela, and myself, the exhibition will travel to nine venues across Alberta through 2019.

Artist Statement

I like to think of childhood as a place: a vast, intricate landscape with ever-changing terrain to discover and explore. This place is filled with contradictions: it is beautiful and scary, boundless and tiny, magical and logical, dangerous and safe. Childhood is a place where anything can happen, the openness of which is wonderful but also unsettling. For this exhibition I decided to explore these ideas in a series of invented landscapes populated with children and animals. I'm inspired by my own small daughter’s capacity for wonder and fear, and also by memories of my own childhood. When I was my daughter’s age, my family spent extended periods of time in Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru. My brother and I loved exploring each new place and discovering different cultures. Still, we spent much of our time playing long-running games of make-believe which existed in imaginary spaces: underground hide-outs, castles, abandoned labyrinths. In this way we saw the real world through the filter of our play-world. Maybe because of these early experiences, I am deeply inspired by Latin American magical realist fiction, in which unexplained or illogical elements appear in otherwise believable settings. In my paintings, I want this strangeness to feel somehow familiar, revealing small truths about the human experience, for children and adults alike.

-Jessica Plattner, 2016