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  • Writer's pictureSally Maeng

Gleaning stories from art

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Barbie's story


When Barbie was a little girl, she made happy memories around the kitchen table. With her two older sisters, they delightfully drew together as a family activity. Eventually, Barbie would pursue art in high school.

Years passed, and 21-year-old Barbie watched a production by the Covenant Players at a church in Coquitlam. The different stories conveyed in a series of skits captivated Barbie. Whatever stirred in her heart must have overflowed and become visible on the outside. At the end of the night, one of the actors pointed Barbie out from the crowd and said, "You want to do this, don't you?" She joined the team and toured with them for about a year.

Times goes by again, and now, Barbie was a young mom with three little kids. She came home from watching Romeo and Juliet on stage with her sister, wishing she was again part of a show. When she got home, she found a message on her answering machine. The caller asked if Barbie wants to join the church's Dessert Theater -- A Christmas production involving live theater and desserts. (A super creative name, I know.) Barbie's talent and dedication did not go unnoticed. In the following years, Barbie would be the Director and combine her theatre knowledge with her methods for executing her visual art projects.

There is no doubt Babie enjoys performing and visual art. Almost a decade passed since her last Desert Theater. Today, she works at the Surrey Art Center, acts in pantomimes (a type of theater genre that involves making comedic parodies of well-known stories), and regularly draws in her sketchbook. But her love for visual and performing art is what you see on the surface. Underneath, Barbie is passionate about the storytelling and emotions expressed by art.

I never thought much of it, but it's fascinating how art -- whether it's a ballet, opera, or art piece -- could magically transport you to places. You start off sitting in a comfortable seat in the Vogue theater. Then somehow, you find tears behind your eyes for some fictional character you met 40 minutes ago. Or you're walking inside the Vancouver Art Gallary. And unexpectedly, a slab of mixed media art on the wall makes you dive into your memories.

According to Barbie, that's what art does: it brings out emotions in people by telling a story that resonates with the audience's heart. People see themselves reflected in the art - betrayal, loneliness, elation, and more. As you relate to the art, you're reminded life is a shared experience, and you're not alone in your pain and happiness.

In conclusion, if you ever meet Barbie, it won't take you long to find out what her passions are. On top of her art-related job and hobbies, two of her three children went to college for theater. (Evidently, Barbie's blissful childhood memories happily poured into her children's lives.) But dig deeper, and you'll see that what fuels her creativity are stories and emotions that connect us together.


To contact Barbie and learn more about this story, follow @barbie.warwick on Instagram.

And check out Surrey Art Gallery Association (SAGA) gift shop! Barbie is selling small prints and cards at their online shop, and she'll also be giving an Artist Talk on June 3rd!


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