Exhibit delves into the heart of a deepening friendship

A fascinating new local exhibit is tapping into the joys and wonders of the formation of a friendship. Soul Sisters: A Journey to the Heart, is currently on display at the Harris-Warke Gallery (in Sunworks at 4924 Ross St.).

The exhibit marks a unique collaboration between Red Deer’s Glynis Wilson Boultbee and Grande Prairie artist Sabine Schneider. It documents, via an array of artwork and artifacts, the unfolding of their friendship over about a two-year period.

It was in the early winter of 2009 the women first met at a course in Edmonton. And from the start, there was an almost instant connection that sprang from a shared interest in a particular piece of art.

“That was what we call the moment of recognition,” explains Wilson Boultbee, adding the more she saw of Schneider’s work, the more she realized a creative collaboration of sorts was the natural next step.

“Very early on, we thought it would be so interesting to document a friendship from the get-go.”

It wasn’t long before Wilson Boultbee and Schneider decided to get together on a regular basis to artistically explore the concept of ‘soul sisters’.

Sometimes they knew in advance what genre they’d be working with. For example, one weekend they focused on fabric art. Other times, they would paint. There were also a series of wonderfully insightful poems created during these times as well. In the exhibit, the works, done in a number of genres, flow naturally from one display to the next. They’re like milestones that mark points of connection and growth, tracing the solidification of a new friendship.

Of course, collaboration means bringing respect and sensitivity to what the other person brings to the creative process, she adds.

“Sometimes we would make pieces together, and sometimes we made separate pieces. Either way, we were still affecting each other just by making art in each other’s presence as we talked about how friendships were important to us.”

Those times proved to be enriching on many levels.

“Sometimes there were words, but at other times it was a wordless experience,” adds Schneider who is originally from Germany. She relocated to Canada in 1996, first settling in B.C. “We certainly had a goal and an intention in mind, but we were also honouring what needed to emerge.”

Ultimately, the exhibit is a rich testament to the founding and the growth of a particular connection, but it offers much we can all relate to. Everyone knows someone who it was easy to become friends with; where there was an abundance of common ground.

“I think it’s all rooted back to there being a sense that this is a person of integrity who can be trusted,” says Wilson Boultbee. “To me, that’s really an important and valuable building block for friendship.”

Schneider agrees.

“She is always honouring the wholeness of life and of the human experience in a gentle and caring way,” she explains of Wilson Boultbee. “Collaboration can end up being on a superficial level. But for us, it’s not about what we are displaying, it’s about the honesty and the authenticity of the work we’ve done together.”

Soul Sisters will be on display through to Sept. 10. A reception is set for Sept. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. as part of Red Deer’s First Fridays.