Timber, Lumber, Wood, Home

Reid Gallery

Fern Helfand

Online Exhibition Tour - available May 18

Fern Helfand creates an observation point for viewers to contemplate how our environment, our society, and our very identity is being modified by resource use. Her work records the way we clear the land, build our homes, choose our materials, and shelter ourselves. It pushes the boundaries of photography beyond straight documentary images by merging multiple photographs and videos into composite creations. Printed and projected on a large scale, they more effectively convey the experience of place or event than what could be achieved through a single image, capturing a deeper sense of time and place.

Entering the Reid Gallery, a full wall video projection of a Boundary skyscape sets the tone. Change is constant and inevitable, clouds form and disperse in an accelerated timeframe, set against recognizable mountaintops. On opposite walls, a gigantic three-dimensional panorama of a log pile ready for transport faces a series of large format photographs taken locally at the Grand Forks Interfor sawmill and Son Ranch.

These depictions show the process of resource extraction and material fabrication, lingering on the details and highlighting the specificity of the process. Images of stacked lumber, log piles, industrial equipment, and sawmills bring a sense of curiosity and wonder to the sometimes conflicting paradigms of economic necessity, environmental stewardship, and community identity. Simultaneously honouring the importance of the lumber industry and questioning the ecological costs, Timber, Lumber, Wood, Home presents an unflinching and nuanced portrait of a regional economy influenced by global trends.