Labrador artist featured at The Rooms in St. John's

·3 min read

Born and raised in Labrador West, Hynes went to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, returning in the summers to work in the mine, like her father and uncles before her.

“As I was coming home each summer between terms and working in the mine, I realized it was an extraordinary experience,” she told SaltWire Network. “My classmates didn’t have an understanding of mining and growing up in a company town and just how unique that experience itself is. I had an urge to try to explain it to people, and that’s where this came from.”

What Hynes is referring to is "Workhorse," a multidisciplinary art exhibit she created that is currently featured at The Rooms in St. John’s. The exhibit has photos, drawings and sculptures, all about and evoking Labrador West and the mines, and how they shape the people and landscape.

Hynes said she’s trying to craft a visual representation of the culture of Labrador West and how it’s intrinsically tied to the iron ore and its extraction.

“I think people who have never been to Lab City have this view of what it is, and I don’t think there’s much of a contemporary historical representation of Labrador City. I hope this exhibit could be part of that historical record of our province, which rarely ever includes Labrador West,” she said.

The exhibit is part of the Elbow Room residency program, which supports promising artists from the province as they create a new body of work. They get studio time in The Rooms and present their work as an exhibit afterward.

Mireille Eagan, curator of contemporary art at The Rooms, said they were excited to see what Hynes would produce during her time in the studio and that her work “brought an elegant and poetic eye to the resource extraction industry in her hometown.”

Eagan said the exhibit is important because it’s a documentation of the industry as a lived experience.

“Tanea’s work is many things at once — critical, compassionate, evocative and highly personal,” Eagan said. “Exhibitions like these show the value of looking at what is often considered far outside the art world, and that art is often an expression of the complexity of daily life.”

The residency, which was supposed to last three months, began about a month before the COVID-19 pandemic began. They delayed the exhibit until this January, which Hynes said gave her a lot more time to work on the project and let her produce work she otherwise wouldn’t have.

“It let me zero in on what I actually wanted to make,” she said. “It was like I got a second chance to contextualize what I made. There was a lot of work I wouldn’t have if not for the pandemic.”

The exhibit was supposed to close in April, but has been extended until Sept. 26 because of the recent lockdown.

Hynes also created a book of the same name to accompany the show, which she said has been selling quicker than she can get them. The book and her work can be seen online here.

Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram