Interior Design Show Vancouver (IDS) continues this week with a mix of virtual and small, in-person events. After months in confinement, it's galvanized creative exhibitions and unexpected collaborations, as designers and artists reimagine ways to showcase their work.
In many ways, it was COVID that prompted sculptor Marie Khouri to open her home studio for intimate tours this Thursday. “I've never opened my home the way I'm going to be doing it. Never. My home is a very sacred space,” Khouri says. But, in an isolating year, she felt it was a way to reach a community in the city to both showcase her recent work, and to bring a sense of normality.
Complementary to her home tours, Khouri collaborated with Montauk Sofa to showcase some sculptures in their Gastown showroom on Wednesday. There, she also featured a recent sculptural lighting, a collaboration with Maurice and Jordan Dery of Karice Lighting.
Khouri may not have thought, two or three years ago, to open her home studio like this, or to collaborate with other Vancouver designers like this. “Being here and living in Vancouver to the fullest has really anchored me in the city and has placed me in a place where I want to reach out,” Khouri says of the last eight months. It was an especially creatively intensive period for Khouri, who on a regular year would be traveling often, but instead, she was able to spend months dedicated to being in her studio. Suddenly, she had a body of work ready, including 'Fleurs du Mal', drawn from the French poet Charles Baudelaire booklet of poetry.
Small groups five or six will (safely) be able to explore Khouri’s work as its placed throughout her home, in a thirty-five-minute private tour, where she’ll speak about her materials (she uses many, from bronze to glass to concrete) and inspiration, followed by a question-and-answer period. They’ll be able to view her intimate studio, where she retreats to—her think tank of sorts. Her sculptures are sprinkled throughout the home, and in the backyard, where she lets pieces sit, curious to find out how they will weather. There are ongoing projects in her basement studio and outside, just off the side door of her house—where she’s been working with charcoal to create 3D city maps. One of them hangs next to her fireplace. Many of her many small stone models—her maquettes— that she crafts before they are scaled up, will be displayed around the home from projects like ‘Let’s Sit and Talk’, a large body of sculptures that spell their namesake in Arabic.
Her maquette of 'Eyes on the Street' that become two mirrored stainless steel sculptures in, installed in False Creek.
Khouri will be speaking to her public artworks and their processes. Beginning in her mid-30s, out of a curiosity to do something artistic that she’d never done before as a translator and a financier, she trained in classical sculpting at École du Louvre in Paris. But after relocating to Vancouver, it’s here where she began doing public art.
Although Vancouver is somewhere she’d previously lived when her childhood in Lebanon was interrupted by the Civil War, she’d then lived in Spain and Italy before settling in Paris. But upon returning, she found a sense of serenity, especially after spending many years in concrete cities. “There's space, there's freedom,” Khouri says. In her 15 years in Vancouver, she’s developed a large body of work around organic forms, that’s inspired by the city’s natural surroundings.
Part of her journey to public art stemmed from a desire to bring sculpture out of “sterile” gallery settings. It would humanize the work. “I wanted for children to be able to climb on my work,” she says. “I wanted for people to be able to sit on my work. I wanted them to touch it.”
Suitably, the home tours offer a way for Khouri to have people organically experience her work. “These past six or eight or nine months have allowed me to think up about different ways of showing the work, different ways of speaking of it,” she says. They’ll see how Khouri’s pieces truly happen. Where and how she ideates. They’ll see, where language limits (although Khouri speaks five), how she expresses herself through her hands.
“With the hands, it's almost a direct transition for me, gut in a way, I'm able to really express things that were really deep,” she says. “I'm able to say things that I couldn't say in words."
The Creative Process with Marie Khouri
October 8, 2020