Contributed photo Former Elgin Park Secondary grad Vicki Lynn Rae with her painting Teeth-Shattering Scream, currently featured in the exhibition Women and Anger at the Koehnline Museum of Art at Oakton Community College, Chicago.

Painting a healing journey of creativity

South Surrey-raised artist Vicki Lynn Rae’s work featured in Chicago art show

The title of the acrylic painting is Teeth-Shattering Scream.

It’s a self-portrait of artist Vicki Lynn Rae, her face distorted in a cry of anger, anguish and pain. And she still remembers clearly her feelings when she painted it 10 years ago.

“(It’s) a self study in the actual moment of having a massive emotional release of anger,” she told Peace Arch News this week.

“It took tremendous courage, energy and focus to stay with the feeling, honour it and step back and observe myself to paint it. No thinking could be involved – it is pure energy and intuition.”

The painting is winning the 2000 Elgin Park Secondary grad well-earned international attention as part of a juried exhibition in Chicago, Women and Anger: Resistance, Power and Inspiration, which opened Sept. 28 and runs until Oct. 20 at Oakton Community College’s Koehnline Museum of Art.

Rae attended the opening (“it was very well attended and a powerful collection of works by over 80 female artists,” she said) and found her painting had been chosen to illustrate a Chicago Tribune article about the show.

As the college’s website describes the theme, Women and Anger “examines how well-placed anger can often be an impetus for healing, transformation and action.”

That’s something that Rae – who grew up in South Surrey (she started at Chantrell Creek Elementary in Grade 5) and now lives in New Westminster – understands well.

The painting was the first in what she calls her ‘Recovery Series’ – self-portraits documenting pivotal stages of a struggle against addictive behaviours that, she admits, had brought her to the brink of ending her life in 2006.

Rae, whose online bio acknowledges her Native Canadian and South African roots, described to PAN growing up in an “attentive and supportive” environment in which both her parents and early teachers encouraged her to express herself through a passion for art that manifested itself from the moment she could hold a pencil.

But Rae had challenges that took an emotional toll, she said.

She was born with a “visible and painful” vascular malformation on her right arm and chest (she is left-handed), and that, she said, contributed to her perceptions of herself being skewed in her formative years.

“I was terribly shy and suffered from crippling anxiety,” she noted. “With little understanding of what I was going through and no other suitable treatment on offer at the time, I found reprieve in alcohol, anorexia and self-harm.”

That “period of darkness,” she said, spanned the years from ages 14 to 24, even though she continued to paint and draw all the while.

“It was my lifeline, a visual diary, a meditation and communication with something larger than myself which I wasn’t even aware of,” she said. “All I knew was I was compelled to create.”

After working following graduation from high school, she travelled to Florence, Italy for a six-month program in fine arts and Italian language. Following another spell of working at various jobs and moving around the Lower Mainland, Rae was accepted into the IDEA program at Capilano University in 2004.

“But my addiction was all-but-consuming me by then,” she said.

She hit “rock bottom” two years later – only to find a turning point in the midst of her despair as she looked at her paintings, filling the walls and closets of her dilapidated East Vancouver apartment.

“It was my art that called to me that day, and for my art I chose to go on – in an instant I set everything else aside and dedicated my life to bringing something beautiful into this world through art.”

Rae realized then that her main wish was to, through art, share a story of recovery to give inspiration and hope to others.

“My addiction was miraculously lifted that day in September in 2006, and through vigilance and perseverance I have remained sober to this day,” she said.

The healing journey began in intuitive canavases that reflected her emotional state in-the-moment, Rae said.

A telling companion piece to Teeth Shattering Scream is The Night Everything Went Away, she said.

“It shows the next layer in the healing process: a sadness, a deep surrender and peace.”

Over the last decade Rae has built steadily on her progress. The Recovery Series has given way to the Safari Series – celebrating African wildlife – and the Canada Wild Series, which has evolved to include Lower Mainland landscapes. She has participated in numerous community art exhibitions and has learned to step out of the comfort zone of her studio in live painting demos of her creative process.

“Painting and anything creative – this is the language I speak and understand, this is how I process my life, the world, experiences and events,” Rae said.

“For me, making art is – akin to breathing – it is not an option, it is who I am.”

And Rae – who’s also set to participate in a group show of landscapes, You Are Here, at the North Vancouver District Library Gallery (Oct. 25 to Dec. 11) – describes the Chicago show as a first step in a new phase in her career.

“(This) juried exhibit is my first foray into the international art scene and I see it as an exciting beginning of what’s to come,” she said.

For more information about Rae and her art , visit vickirae.com

Just Posted

Surrey School District refuses to rent Bell Centre for Parents United Canada rally

Group is seeking court injunction to stop an LGBTQ program in public schools

Coffee with a Cop held in South Surrey

‘Sensational media,’ hazards, and inner-workings of RCMP discussed

White Rock taxpayers on the hook for Memorial Park upgrades delay

Mayor says the province is ‘waffling’ on granting permission to go ahead with project

EXCLUSIVE: Surrey collecting fees on more than 2,400 illegal suites, documents reveal

That works out to more than $1 million in fees collected annually

READERS REACT: ‘Devastated’ mom says 14-year-old Surrey overdose victim loved being with friends

This is what some of our readers are saying about Heaven Donnelly’s tragic story

VIDEO: Surrey Now-Leader reporter tries on a ‘drunk driving suit’

The suit from Ocean Park Ford emulates what it’s like to get behind the wheel after drinking

Holy Heritage Rail Batman: Superheros come to Cloverdale historic train

The Fraser Valley Heritage Rail is hosting its third annual Halloween rail adventure Oct 28, 29

Surrey Eagles prep for road tilt with first-place Vernon Vipers

After a Friday night game against Wenatchee, the Birds take aim at BCHL leaders Saturday

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

‘Hearties’ descend on Langley

Fans of TV show ‘When Calls the Heart’ have gathered in Langley for the Hearties Family Reunion

Most Read