Elizabeth Zvonar | Offsite and Beyond


By Roxanne Toronto

Posted on October 29, 2015 | Updated August 06, 2019, 9:05am

The Experience opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery - Offsite, November 5.

Alumna and Emily Award winner Elizabeth Zvonar works in sculpture and collage. A recipient of the 2015 VIVA award, recognizing mid-career artists who demonstrate outstanding achievement, she plans to use a portion of her winnings to support a residency at Residency Unlimited in New York this Spring. For Elizabeth, receiving the award was more gratifying than just the monetary compensation, it was a real moment of honour as the award is juried and the recipients have no indication that they've been selected until the phone rings.

Fresh off of her exhibition this summer, The Challenge of Abstraction at Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto, and her three-year post as a City of Vancouver Artist in Residence, she launches The Experience, her first public commission and exhibition for the Vancouver Art Gallery’s – Offsite opening November 5 at 6pm.

For The Experience, Elizabeth worked with architectural/industrial/communication designer Charlotte Falk (sessional faculty), as well as fellow alum Carlos Mendes, to digitally finesse the final work, an immense 54’ x 20’ digital print of a hand-cut collage. Her vision for The Experience was to create an atmosphere of longing for summer in the dreary days of winter. The work includes sand dunes on the surface of Mars taken from a book of images that were produced by the Hubble Space Telescope, and the timing of the exhibition is indeed intentional.

When asked about a recent memorable response she’s had to her work, Elizabeth recalls, “I was told by another artist that my collages were visual articulations of places they have seen in their dreams. Places that are both real and unreal in waking life.”

And that seems befitting for her next show - a group exhibition with Annie MacDonell (TO) and Lis Rhodes (UK) at Western Front. CUT, opening November 12, is based on the punk/post-punk band The Slits 1978 album cover of the same name.

A transfer student from what was then Capilano College, Elizabeth always knew she wanted to attend Emily Carr and applied to the degree program after taking some time off to work and travel. What she found most inspiring about her time here was the camaraderie — the sense of community and opportunity to collaborate with other artists that she met in the studios. This was where she really gained an understanding of what an art practice could be. In her words, a truly important aspect of the Emily Carr experience.

Since graduation, her practice has shifted in that she no longer lets the end idea or product lead. Instead, she values and trusts the process to lead. And her advice to students would be to do the same, “Don’t get fixed on a final idea or what the project requires. Move through a process with the goal in mind (the project details) and take chances. Use materials you’re not familiar with and ask friends and peers who might have skills that you don't, to lend a hand. Skill-share with each other and peer learn. It’s a really productive way to understand how to work across a wide breadth of material."

She’s found that sourcing the right people to work with to help execute the final piece is often key. That collaboration, which she first learned about during her Emily Carr days, is golden.

Read Elizabeth's full bio.