Have you ever stopped in the middle of a Costco store and just marveled at what you saw? The chaos, the flow of bustling people, the architecture that could be mistaken for no other building. Local artist Rebecca Payne has stopped and watched these commercial shopping spaces and patterns many times over the past few years. Their new body of work explores seeing a space for what it’s actually being used for, how the use of space can change, and the emotional effect spaces can have on oneself and others.

Rebecca Payne is a queer multimedia artist from rural Ontario. They are a graduate of the University of Guelph with an Honours BA in Studio Art, with specializations in painting, printmaking and drawing. They have a fascination with liminal spaces and parting with fleeting moments as they pass. Their current work explores themes of loneliness, awkwardness, and the mutual exchange between the artist and the environment.

GAC Staff member Paige Bromby had a chance to chat with Rebecca about their upcoming show at 10C Shared Space and the new work that will be on display there in March. 

Paige Bromby:  How did you come up with the idea for your upcoming show ‘Wishing you were here!”? 

Rebecca Payne: I came up with the idea for the show while trying to combine the ideas of thinking how retail and grocery spaces were adapted for use during COVID and jokingly thinking of my workplace as a holiday destination, since for the last two years we’ve been limited in the destinations we’re able to go to – mostly just work and home. 

Paige Bromby:  What role does observation play in your art practice? 

Rebecca Payne: Observation is how most of my visual drawings and paintings start. I like to observe what is really there and the things I project onto the spaces and combine those two in different ways to achieve different atmospheres and emotions. 

Paige Bromby: What have you discovered in the relationships between people, their social habits, and retail spaces? 

Rebecca Payne: Retail spaces have continuously changed a lot recently! Retail environments were one of the main sources for socializing for a while and simultaneously social distancing was really important too. People subconsciously lining up on floor stickers and keeping space from each other while saying hi to family members and friends weekly or bi-weekly in stores while meetups in their own households were not advised. It’s been interesting seeing the lingering social rules in effect and seeing who does and does not follow them. 

Paige Bromby: How did COVID-19 affect you and your artwork? 

Rebecca Payne: I think it’s inescapable that it would influence my art as COVID has really impacted myself and everyone’s day-to-day life. Things are a lot more mundane so it’s been interesting for me to lean into that and see what comes up when I just explore boring day-to-day life, especially in the workplace. 

‘Wishing You Were Here’ will be on display from Monday, February 28 until Monday, March 14 at 10C Shared Space (42 Carden St., Guelph). 10C is open to the public Monday to Friday 9 am to5 pm but appointments to view the artwork outside those hours or requests to purchase artwork can be made by contacting [email protected].

A closing reception with the artist will be held on Sunday, March 13 1 pm to 3 pm. Learn more about Rebecca Payne on their website

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