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UBC Okanagan Visual Arts Exhibition

Hosted by the UBCO Visual Arts Course Union (UBCOVACU))

Cassie Mckenzie

Rediscovery, 2020

Digital Animation, 3483 x 2160 pixels


     The richly-textured animation titled Rediscovery is a combination of the personal and the mythic. Cassie Mckenzie has created a lush world using hand-created digital-painting, and invites the viewer through a landscape that reverberates with the sumptuous layers of color that are experienced as material, rather than the output of the digital realm. This film is filled with clues, it is a mesh, a mixture of worlds, which coincides with its theme of emigration, self-discovery, and connecting with a heritage that could have been lost. For this pastoral journey down the Paracas River is a communion, a “love-letter” to the artist’s Abuela.

      The protagonist of the painted animation is stylized and serene. She, and her method of carriage, the canoe, are the only aspects of the work that read as emanations of the digital. They are drawn with outlined clarity, while the surroundings are palpable textures and undulating motion. The immersive world that she has entered, this woman of the contemporary digital, is a newly discovered past filled with life and abundance. The river carries her boat with a gentle rolling gait, the vista of her discovered heritage engages nature’s embrace. About half-way through the film, the point-of-view changes momentarily. The view is now first-person, looking over the prow, creating a tactile experience of the rolling waves in a dextrous animated feat. This is a meditative hero’s journey -- the hardships that were faced have passed. What remains is union, acceptance, and the motion of the river’s heave that conjures nothing but a loving sigh.
       Just as Mckenzie has personalized a mythic journey down the river, the film’s meandering narrative arc peaks with another change of viewpoint that intertwines the personal with the universal. We now are looking down at hands, out through the heroine’s eyes, rather than watching her travels. The hands are holding a stone woman whose face is a hand-drawn portrait. This small stone statue is a representation of Chaska, the Peruvian goddess of dawn, wakefulness, and new beginnings. The face of the goddess is that of the artist’s Grandmother, who told stories of her Peruvian childhood, and her dear friend who carved statues of the goddess. Once again the mythological entangles with the personal. It is a healing combination, a realization that the past is real, and lives in the present.

- Michelle Weinstein


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