Of art and community: Artist draws inspiration from people in his life

Some artists draw inspirations from the mountain, rivers and sky that make up the landscape around them. Clement Yeh takes his inspiration from the people who fill his world.

"Community is very, very important to me," said Yeh, a visual arts studio technician at Thompson Rivers University. "I can't think of anything better to make art about than the people around me.

The majority of the 35-year-old's work is based on the people around him - his friends, co-workers and acquaintances. And he brings them to life on canvas using a variety of mediums.

An exhibit of his work, the first since moving his wife and two children to Kamloops in October, will be on display at the Wilson House Gallery on Tranquille Road starting April 10.

Yeh agreed to the show in December without any inkling of what the work on display would be. But, as a professional artist, the expectation is to have a showing at least once a year, he said.

At the time, the people he knew were still strangers to him. But he approached them and the project as a newcomer painting portraits of the residents in his new hometown.

His subjects have since become good friends and an important part of his family's life, said Yeh.

With a theme in mind and a date for the exhibit set, Yeh set to work, putting aside all other social engagements and activities in order to complete the exhibit on time.

There will be seven or eight pieces by the time the exhibit opens. The arts will range from abstract - a face formed from a child's industrial toy - to more realistic paintings.

One painting titled Rachel Ross depicts a woman sitting in a chair. Although he painted in watercolour, the attention to detail is so sharp it could have been drawn with a pencil.

Yeh said he doesn't like to create in one medium, this way he and his audience will not tire of his art.

"I am my first audience. If I'm bored with what I am doing, something has to change, he said.

Yeh studied art in Calgary and Montreal but opted to move to Kamloops because the smaller community provided him with more opportunities from a professional and artistic standpoint.

He's since joined the board of directors for the artist-run centre Arnica, saying it is an under-used and invaluable resource for local artists.

"There is more of an opportunity to make an impression in a local community," said Yeh.

To see more of Yeh's work head online to clementyeh.com.


WHAT:Fresh Faces: Portraits of Kamloops Residents by a Newcomer

WHEN:April 10 to May 9

WHERE:Wilson House Gallery, 115 Tranquille Rd.

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