Colleen Barlow’s Whale Dreams at UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum

Colleen's remark at the opening of Whale Dreams, Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Colleen’s remark at the opening of Whale Dreams, Wednesday, September 30th, 2015


By Sean Yoon


FullSizeRenderHaving been invited by artist Colleen McLaughlin Barlow to attend the opening of her latest exhibition, “Whale Dreams” on September 30th, 2015, I arrived at the UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum mindful of images I had seen of her work through her website. So in a sense, before I walked into the exhibition, I carried preconceived ideas of what I was to see and experience.

The exhibition turned out to be highly different from what I expected, in a visually heightened, enlightening way to be able to experience her artwork in person. In particular, I recall being fascinated to observe the guests engaging with her art by taking pictures, conversing about her artwork in groups, as well as participating in some of the activities set up in the exhibition such as a drawing station where guests are instructed to draw blind contours of whale bone structures set up in front of them.

Just as the Beaty Biodiversity Museum emphasizes how important the interconnectedness, or connection between human beings and nature is, Colleen’s art revealed a similar vein of thinking as we the spectators are made to contemplate the whale bones not just as one animal’s remains, but as a spectral symbol of our own mortality, our own bones residing within us. The exhibition provides an excellent opportunity to experience this in person, as well as check out the huge 26-metre long blue whale skeleton suspended in the museum’s atrium. If you have the chance, I would definitely recommend taking the time to visit the exhibition at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in UBC before it ends on February 14th, 2016.


October 1, 2015 – February 14, 2016

Beaty Biodiversity Museum
2212 Main Mall