150 maple leaves at the Nelson Public Library

Unique project by local artist

NELSON — An art installation in the form of a quilt mosaic of maple has brightened up the Nelson Public Library.

The 150 maple leaves stitched, painted, beaded and otherwise rendered on small square boards—was a passion project of Nelson artist and designer Jane Merks.

“My parents immigrated to Canada in the early 1950s from the Netherlands,” says Merks. “Growing up, we were taught to appreciate all that Canada has to offer us and all that others offer to Canada. This country’s diversity and its acceptance of that diversity is what sets Canada apart from many other countries.”

Each leaf in the collection entitled Maple Mosaic celebrates Canadian society’s many influences, with designs that hark to Canada’s indigenous people and those who came from Europe, Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world. Artists Lawren Harris, Maude Lewis, and Norval Morrisseau are honoured, as well as artists who influenced Merks’ own artistic career. Nature is represented in plants and trees; there are depictions of Newfoundland’s colourful salt box houses and Quebec’s fleur-de-lis.

“As I made these 150 leaves I used techniques I haven’t worked with in years. I also learned new things, not only about the other cultures that make this country great, but also about what has influenced me as an artist and designer for over 50 years, “ Merks says. “Each piece is its own little world of colour, texture, design or technique, but it’s as a collection that it shines – as do we when we stand together.”

Merks brings to the project a diverse background in photography, painting, sculpture, textiles, printmaking, graphic design and bookbinding. She has taught graphic design at various universities throughout Canada and the United States.

Merks has produced a book about the Canada 150 project, available for purchase at the Library. The exhibition continues until the end of February.

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