For the Interconnected Project, I am presenting “Interplay With Nature”, a collection of oil and acrylic paintings showing my appreciation for my surroundings and noting ways of interacting positively with our environment.
Of particular interest is “Symbiosis”, a mural about Norquay Learning Orchard where it is currently installed. I was honored to portray for Collingwood Neighbourhood House this urban lot with an underground stream. It could not solidly support a house, so it was turned into an orchard used for learning, community enjoyment, and haven for birds, pollinators, and indigenous plants. I painted it with a playful feel, providing a stage for pollinators and taking care to meld the finished work into its space in the overgrown tangle. As I painted, I hoped to encourage more green spaces in our midst where people and nature can connect and mutually benefit.
For several years, McLaren participated in and organized Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society’s Generation One project, a platform to engage communities and to promote the works of first-generation Asian artists. Working with Jim Wong-Chu, she co-ordinated the First Families, First Stories Project to strengthen immigrant identities in their adopted country, Canada. Eleven years and counting with VAHMS, she wore many hats serving as VP, committee chair, and advisor. Presently, she is an artist consultant in the Interconnected Project initiated by curator and Board Chairperson, Leticia Sanchez.
About the Artist
Esmie Gayo McLaren is a Filipino-Canadian visual artist based in Vancouver, BC. Using oils, acrylics, or watercolours, McLaren paints scenes of everyday life through an emotive use of color and light. Going beyond technical shapes and lines, she engages viewers by leaning on intuition, knowledge, senses, and fragments of memory.
McLaren received her BSc in Biology/Psychology from the University of Alberta and artistic training from Emily Carr University. She has garnered art awards such as Best Work on Paper, Best of Show, and Excellence in Figurative Work. Her memberships include the Federation of Canadian Artists (Vancouver), Society of Philippine American Artists (New York City), and the International Watercolor Society (Ontario). Highlights of her extensive exhibition experience are milestone achievements in 2018: “Expanding Horizons” solo exhibit in New York City, and “Essence” 6-Person exhibit she presented to empower women. The latter was held at Art Space in North Vancouver and at the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa.
In 2019, McLaren mounted a duo exhibit at Jeunesse Gallery of Fine Arts and joined juried exhibits at venues such as Federation Gallery, Roundhouse Exhibition Hall, Kamloops Art Gallery, Surrey Art Gallery, Philippine Consulate in Vancouver, and Kosovo National Museum. She was also an invited artist at Fabriano In Acquarello in Italy, 2020 and 2021.
Besides her ongoing representation at Jeunesse Gallery, her latest activities include a nature-inspired mural installed at Norquay Learning Orchard, an exhibit by Filipino women artists at the Philippine Consulate in Vancouver, an online exhibit celebrating Mariang Makiling with Filipino Canadian Art Museum, and an anti-racism collaboration with North Van Arts and partners.
In addition to her artistic practice, McLaren is passionate about connecting communities, human condition, gardening, nature, and travel.