Jessica McVicker emerges into post-pandemic show with a new style

Yellowknife artist Jessica McVicker says her first full show in three years will demonstrate a significant and colourful change in her approach.

McVicker twice cancelled shows in 2021 as Covid-19 ebbed and flowed through the Northwest Territories. Her latest attempt, Up North, will run at Yellowknife’s Northern United Place on April 22 and 23.

Unusually for McVicker, the show span several years of her output.


“I think it’s some of the strongest work I’ve ever done and it’ll be wonderful to see them all together. It’s even a treat for me to see them all in a collection. I don’t really get to have that experience too often,” she told Cabin Radio.

McVicker said the setbacks of Covid-19 had been many: a gallery to which she was connected almost closed and Yellowknife’s Northern Images store, where she had been selling a lot of her work, went online-only.

“There was a lot of disappointment and it felt really fraught, for sure,” she said.

But challenges that sapped colour from day-to-day life inspired a broader spectrum on the canvas.

“I’ve incorporated a lot more colours,” said McVicker.


“I used to only do four colours, the primaries and then white. Now I’m going to 13, 14 colours and it’s really made my work a lot brighter, with almost a more chipper aspect to it. Before, I think there was more of a muted tone.

“What I’m doing now has a more jarring effect, or it can, even though there’s a happier aspect. It’s more intense to look at, that intensity has come into my work.”

A work by Jessica McVicker
A work by Jessica McVicker. Photo: Supplied
A selection of pieces appearing in Up North
A selection of pieces appearing in Up North.

The subjects have changed, too.

“Last year and even the year before, I did a lot of stuff oriented around people, portraiture, and conveying dreams. That was a coping mechanism that emerged from the upsets of the potential of financial loss and that kind of thing,” she said.


“It really helped me out to experiment and I’m pretty proud of them, I think they are some of my best work. They depict a lot of emotion and variation.

“Lately, I’m delving into more landscapes and what Yellowknife is. About eight years ago I was obsessed with Pilots’ Monument, and then I was like, ‘never again.’ But I’ve been doing quite a few of them. It’s funny, these old haunts and themes have reemerged and I’m reinterpreting them in this new style that I have.”

Up North is free to enter. The show run from 6:30pm till 9:30pm on Friday, April 22, and 11am till 4:30pm on Saturday, April 23.