To say that Lynn Price was surprised to win the Tanabe Prize for British Columbia painters is an understatement. It wasn’t on her radar. In fact, she first found out when she checked her voice mail.
“It’s not something you apply for,” she explained. “You are just chosen.”
Lynn was surprised for two reasons. “I’m an emerging artist and I’m older. I just turned 55. Somehow emerging artist and 55 don’t go together.”
Older, emerging artists like Lynn, often face ageism. “There are so many opportunities for emerging artists under 30 or under 40. A lot of women, especially, put their careers aside while raising children then come back later.”
Lynn’s work is described as contemporary still life. “I see painting as a performance art. It’s idea driven. It looks very simple but it is very complex.”
She works on long term projects that change over time using mostly oils on paper however she also does water colours and drawing projects.
Lynn makes large installations of smaller paintings.
“My work is almost an accumulation, a repetition. The process of making it is so important,” she says.
Lynn was an older student when she decided to attend Emily Carr University in 2008 but it wasn’t her first degree or even her first time at Emily Carr. Lynn also has a Bachelor of Music from UBC and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto.
“I’ve been painting and drawing my whole life,” she told Powell River Living, “but we live in Powell River so what do I do?”
In 2006, she enrolled in a first year online class at Emily Carr. “It was Creative Processes and was taught by a professor in Germany with students from all over the world. I completed the course and did very well. The professor said, ‘You should apply for the program.’”
Lynn did and spent the next few years “doing an insane commute” between Powell River and Vancouver. She worked at home, then Lynn and her husband Ken Palfrey moved to Vancouver and Lynn got a job as a special education teacher with the Vancouver School Board. Her husband also returned to school where he trained to become a baker.
Lynn worked full time and took a full time course load during her final year at Emily Carr. “I finished really well,” she said. Lynn graduated in 2013 with the Mary Plumb Blade Award (painting) and the Governor General’s Silver Academic Medal for the top GPA. An external jury came in and looked at all of Lynn’s paintings for the Mary Plumb Blade award.
After graduating from Emily Carr, Lynn and Ken returned to Powell River and opened Moonsnail Bakery. They’d run a bakery on Savary Island and did well with it, however Moonsnail was a storefront bakery with higher operational costs and was different. “We did that for the better part of a year,” said Lynn. “But we ran out of steam and decided to close the bakery instead of compromise on the quality of the product.”
In the meantime, opportunity of another kind was knocking for Lynn. “I got two artist-in-residence opportunities and went to Finland in 2014,” she said. In January 2015, Lynn went to London, England for four months to work with Rufus Stone, an artist collective.
This year, Lynn will graduate from Concordia University with a master of fine arts in drawing and painting. “I never thought I’d be able to do that,” she said noting that her masters was fully funded. She completed a three-year program in two-and-a-half years. “I had a solo exhibition opportunity and the date was set. I wanted it to be where I showed my thesis project so I worked towards that deadline.”
Lynn is now back in Powell River where she and her husband Ken live in the Townsite. “I’m taking a breather,” she said. She’s a teacher on call for School District 47 while applying for grants, residencies and working on her projects. “It’s perfect,” she said. “I even get to teach art sometimes.”