Shelter in Place – A Portrait of an Empty House

by Lacey Jane Wilburn

Main Gallery
October 20
- November 20, 2022

Artist Statement

‘There is a lamplight glowing from the porch just ahead of us. A soft breeze tickles with
the scent of pine and promise and curiosity. Laughter soaked in barbeque sauce wafts over from
beyond the hedge. We keep walking. The darkness illuminates a large window, like an orange
flame flattened against a curtain of night. Inside, we see an old man sitting in front of his books,
gazing at something we cannot. In another window, a cat swings her tail with the indifference of
a god. Silent images spark from televisions in another home, the same program playing in
different rooms. How distant we are as creatures. How very much the same. This house is empty,
but I bet a witch lives here. Her plants are in full bloom, and her yard looks like a hurricane in
June. Rusty tin pots litter the garden like altars. I bet she brews tea that tastes like thunder. In
another house a telephone hoots its mating call and a woman races to ensnare that midnight
crooning. This house looks like a crow, dark and brooding; it recognizes faces too easily. This
house misses its children. This one is sick of getting punched.’

When you look at a painting, you stand where the painter stood. That is what this exhibition is,
a journey in step with me, soft-footed on tiptoes. This body of work considers the home as a living
entity, a space that reflects not only private physical spaces, but also personal psychological spaces.
Beginning during the shelter in place order, this series developed as an investigation into intimacy and
privacy in a time of closed doors but open virtual windows. By seeing into the private world of
strangers and colleagues through video meetings, I began to realize how much interior space can reveal
the occupant. I began exploring my own home in this manner, considering how my objects could serve
as a portrait of myself, how the bathroom is the biological body, and the bedroom an emotional space
for intimacy. As I walked my quiet streets at night, even the closed homes of strangers began to speak to
a sense of access, of questioning and connection. Though I created these works in a time more
separated from people, I have come to realize in these spaces I am not alone. The house paints a portrait
of the one who dwells inside.

Artist Bio

Lacey Jane Wilburn is a contemporary painter most notable for her cinematic renderings of domestic
space that undulate amidst gestural movement and arresting realism. Originally from the Treaty 6
territory of Edmonton, Alberta, Wilburn studied Fine Art at the University of Grant MacEwan in
Edmonton in 2009, received her Bachelors of Fine Art from Concordia University in Montreal in 2016
after studying abroad at the l’Ecole d’Enseignement Supérieur d’art de Bordeaux in France, and most
recently she obtained her Masters of Fine Art from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2022.
She has participated in over 40 exhibitions since 2009, was the recipient of the University Women’s
Club of Vancouver Scholarship in 2022 and 2021, was the Honorable Mention for the Opus Award in
2022, winner of the Yves Gaucher Prize in Studio Arts in 2016, the D. L. Stevenson Colour
Scholarship for Academic Excellence in 2014, the Francis Henderson Klingle Scholarship for Fine Art,
The Barbara and John Poole Family Endowed Fund for the Arts in 2009, and the Jason Lang
Scholarship for Excellence in 2007. In 2010, she formed the urban art duo LALA [Lacey And Layla
Art] who have developed over 140 public mural interventions across Canada, France, Honduras,
Uganda and Iceland, and have received over $150,000 in grants from federal and municipal funding.
Based now in Vancouver, BC on the ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and
Tsleil-Waututh nations, Wilburn teaches part-time at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and is
forever developing her painting practice.

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