Introducing Canadian Artist Eveline Kolijn

Eveline Kolijn
The Ocean Inside
 “Having never become a marine biologist,I am an artist-marine-biologist.”

The Canadian Institute in Greece has the great pleasure to introduce Canadian multimedia artist Eveline Kolijn, on the occasion of the completion of her latest work entitled The Ocean Inside. A Canadian of Dutch roots and deeply influenced by the years she lived in Curacao, Eveline’s sensitivity and enduring interest in natural history, environment and the ocean is beautifully expressed in her new work. Eveline’s connection with Greece began several years ago when she exhibited earlier work which also alluded to her sensitivity to the environment.

Due to Covid-19 restrictive measures in place at this time, a selection of Eveline’s work is being presented online, with introductions by curator Dr. Caterina Pizanias. We hope that developments will provide the opportunity for The Ocean Inside to be exhibited in situ in Greece in the near future.

On the occasion of World Oceans Day, we invite you to enter and experience The Oceans Inside presented below.

Eveline Kolijn is a Dutch Canadian multimedia artist who soon after she acquired her MFA has increasingly been making inroads and leaving her mark amongst the artists and scientists working within the Anthropocene discourse. She has developed the temperament of a lab scientist, staying focused, paying attention to detail so much so that when any of the muses shines upon her, Eveline effortlessly tells us stories of the earth that are beautiful to see and executed in ways that bring the point of ecological crises to the forefront without invoking big, abstract concepts that intimidate the viewer to simply repress them and/or move on to the next image.

Eveline: “In my practice I explore a general question: what is nature and how do we position ourselves in it?  How do we become ecologically intelligent?  I want to use visual arts to translate the technical talk of science on climate change into the emotional domain of public discourse.” 

It was on the Caribbean island of Curacao where Eveline Kolijn learned to dive, fell in love with the coral reefs but also watched in horror with their continued destruction by the out-of-control oceans pollution.  As a teen in the Caribbean Sea, she learned how to create taxonomies of coral, shells, fishes and recorded the man-made distraction: plastic all over the seabed, dying corals, diminishing numbers of fish.   The ocean has been in her world view since childhood—she knew well the tides and the changes that were taking place due to exponential pollution of the oceans.  
In her own words: “My childhood was spent beachcombing the wind-swept seashore of Venezuela and browsing through illustrated books on evolution, natural history, and seashells. I have a great affinity with naturalists and natural history.  One of the original naturalists in our history was of course Aristotle.  He devoted much time and effort to marine biology.”

I first met Eveline Kolijn when I was visiting studios for a survey exhibition, I was curating for the Esker Foundation titled The New Alberta Contemporaries  (2012).  When I visited Kolijn at her studio, a perfect reflection of who she is unfolded in front of my eyes: an equal presence of artworks and a scientist’s organized files  with images and taxonomies  of samples from her forays into the landscape of Canada’s “oil province.”  Eveline was hard at work telling the story of coral fossils she found in the Rockies, fossils that looked exactly like the coral rubble washed up on the shore that looks exactly like the fossils in the mountains.  

The ocean never left her heart or mind: “Living in landlocked Alberta, where the Sea is a memory, an ancient fossil bed high in the mountains, I miss the Ocean.  The Sea holds an emergent history of evolution: life germinating, harnessing sunlight and creating the breathing oceans that give us oxygen.”

Eveline’s  contribution was a mixed media installation that showcased her interest/knowledge of science, music, artistic craft, and commitment to social issues.  She was inspired by the work of Timothy Morton, the philosopher of ecology whose core belief that all forms of life are interconnected in a “mesh” like system, and  she coupled Morton’s mesh with Johann Sebastian’s pattern of music from his Baroque Suites: “Mesh Suites” and “Carbon Cantatas” came to life. Multimedia and multidisciplinary practice at its geo-aesthetic best.

Eveline Kolijn and I worked again on an exhibition I curated for the Vorres Museum, titled The Lure of the Local-Women Artists in the Canadian Landscape( 2013-14), whose aim was  to provoke new ways of being in and seeing the land.  Eveline Kolijn participated with a two-part multimedia installation. 

A year later, Eveline Kolijn was back in Greece: she was awarded the inaugural Residency at the Vorres Museum’s Canadian Artists Annual Residency Programme.  The month-long stay allowed her to become familiar with the collection—she developed an affinity with Yiannis Gaitis’ work, fellow storytellers on what ails our societies.  

And she planted a seed in her mind next time she finds herself in Greece to pay a visit and meet with the sponge divers of Kalymnos in the Dodecanese.

In 2017, an exhibition took place in Vienna, curated but Stephanie Hessler titled Tidalectics, described by Hessler as “an experiment to formulate an oceanic worldview, a different way of engaging with the oceans of the world….unbound by land- based  modes of thinking, the exhibition is reflective of the rhythmic fluidity of water and incessant swelling and receding of the tides.”