Doug Derksen’s photography helped lead him from a world filled with pain to one of inner calm.
The retired Brandon scientist is one of three artists displaying their works in the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba’s summer exhibitions.
Derksen’s exhibition is entitled "Standing in the Calm of the Storm."
"There are some storm pictures in the exhibit, but what I’m really referring to is this storm of pain and I was able to find some calm," Derksen said in an interview Wednesday at the art gallery.
A public reception for the three exhibitions will be held July 18 at 7:30 p.m. The reception is free to attend with complimentary refreshments.
Derksen was working as a scientist at Agriculture Canada’s research station in Brandon when he and his family were involved in a car accident while vacationing in 2000.
At first, he didn’t appear to be seriously hurt in the accident, he said. It wasn’t until sometime later, when he tried lifting a box, that his personal hell began.
"For eight to 10 years, basically, I was either in bed or in a recliner trying to survive the pain."
A first surgery didn’t help — ironically, it was on April Fools’ Day — he said, adding medication did little to manage the pain.
"I was kind of left on my own to survive."
A second surgery "got me started on a long, slow convalescence, which I’m still participating in," Derksen said. "I’ve still got a long ways to go."
The pain eventually left him unable to continue working, and he was forced to retire approximately 15 years ago.
Derksen’s photography gave him an outlet to briefly escape the pain and helped him once again find the beauty that surrounds him.
He would drag himself out of his recliner, grab his camera, and head out in his car to photograph the beauty near his home on Grand Valley Road.
"The great thing is, despite all of the pain, I found a real deep sense of peace."
His exhibition features approximately 11 pieces, including large and small panoramas, black and whites and abstract photography.
Derksen, 65, has been photographing the world around him for about 40 years. This is his first major exhibition.
It will be featured in the Main Gallery, along with Brandon-based artist Jan Brancewicz’s exhibition "Reproducing the Old Masters."
There will also be a free "Lunch and Look" tour, open to the public on July 19 at noon. Derksen and Brancewicz will lead visitors through the Main Gallery.
For more a decade, Brancewicz has honed his artistic skills and painting techniques to render reproductions of well-known European artworks that show his commitment and dedication to learning the techniques of artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Amedeo Modigliani, the art gallery said in a news release.
Born in Krakow, Poland, Brancewicz has spent more than 30 years at Brandon University as a professor and has been involved in mentoring many young artists across southwestern Manitoba.
The Community Gallery will showcase an exhibition of acrylic paintings and mixed media works by Kay Chapman entitled "Dream Within."
Chapman is a Brandon-based, self-taught artist who uses mark-making, collage and fluid acrylics to explore the world of abstract art. Working intuitively, Chapman creates artworks that parallel our lives; she expresses a narrative about the passing of time marked by happiness, love, and sadness.
"Dream Within" will be on display in the Community Gallery until Aug. 24, while "Reproducing the Old Masters" and "Standing in the Calm of the Storm" will be on view in the Main Gallery until Sept. 7.
The Whitehead Foundation has provided support toward the presentation and reception of the summer exhibitions.
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