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

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Kandi Kehler has just over two weeks left in her rental, but doesn’t know where she is going to go next. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
12 days left: Campbell River family at end of lease with nowhere else to go

Biggest fear coming to life for Campbell River mom

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Campbell River shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

This year’s Grad Parade is being held on Saturday, June 26. Alistair Taylor Photo.
Cheer on parading grads June 26

Watch for β€” or take part in β€” Grad 2021 Car Cruise on Saturday, June 26

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read