David and Jorden Doody . Image: Lia Crow3

David and Jorden Doody . Image: Lia Crow3

Making conversation

Collaborative husband-and-wife team creates art that speaks

  • Dec. 10, 2020 3:04 p.m.

-David Wylie

-Images: Lia Crowe

David and Jorden Doody are more than just collaborative artists—they are wife and husband, mother and father, intuition and structure. Their art and relationship are intertwined, a conversation between two artists who create as one.

They first met at Kelowna’s Hotel Eldorado in the summer of 2001. Jorden worked at the hotel as a housekeeper. David worked next door at Manteo Resort in parasailing. One momentous night, David went to the Eldorado bar with a friend; Jorden was there at a birthday party. When she walked up to the bar, near where he was sitting, David was paralyzed.

“We bumped into each other and had one of those classic love at first sight kind of stories,” said David. “We fell madly in love and within a month moved into an apartment that had very little furniture, and we lived on the floor.”

Neither had intended to stay long in Kelowna.

“We had both returned from elsewhere, being young ages of 19 and 20, and coming back to our hometown where our family was,” said Jorden.

The couple gelled and only a few months later planned to move to the Grand Caymans together. Two days before their flight on September 13, 2001, planes were grounded and delayed after the 9/11 attack in New York City.

Not long after, while still in Canada, they discovered they were going to have a baby.

That was 20 years ago. Now just entering their 40s, they’re still deeply invested and deeply passionate about their relationship.

“I don’t know if anybody else could do what we do if they weren’t madly in love with each other,” said Jorden.

The couple has always tried to work at the same place so they can spend all their time together.

“Art seems to be the language that we end up speaking with each other. So we make these crazy installations that really only we get because it’s a conversation between the two of us,” said David.

Still, they strive to make art that’s also accessible to those outside of their relationship. Using their different yet complementary styles, they add depth to their work.

“A lot of people find our work interesting because it is not just a conversation between one artist and the material at hand, with the viewer seeing the work afterwards. Our work is really a conversation between two separate artists [expressed] in the work itself. So there’s already a conversation that’s happening before it gets presented,” said David.

Added Jorden: “You can feel that there’s a masculine and a feminine perspective intertwined a lot of the time, depending on the work.”

Some of their pieces are developed over months, as the artists converse through their individual styles. Jorden has worked frequently in costuming and is comfortable with a variety of fabrics and materials to create touch and tactility. She’s free-flowing, creative and intuitive.

David’s energy gravitates to planning, architecture and space. He teaches sculpture and painting at UBC.

Together, they create art that’s worth venturing out to the gallery to see in person: tactile, textured, large-scale, exciting.

“The scope of our work is often larger than life. There’s a real kind of presence—you can feel it,” said David. “In order to get that experience, we really need to go big before we go home.”

While raising their children, the couple took the unorthodox path of attending art school, first at UBC in Kelowna, then Capilano University in Vancouver, and then on to Montreal—where David did his master’s degree at Concordia. The family immersed itself—including the kids— in the vibrant arts scene.

“It set the bar pretty high,” said Jorden.

They moved back to Kelowna three years ago, and Jorden has since completed her master’s degree at UBC. Still, they maintain a studio in “la belle province.”

“We’ve been in art school for 12 years,” said David with a laugh. In fact, they were the first collaborative team to graduate as a unit from UBC nearly a decade ago.

Having the influence of children around has also led to a playful feeling, as displayed in recent installations in the Okanagan. In Kelowna, I Must Be Streaming—exhibited at Kelowna Art Gallery until November 1— is a spacious, colourful display that incorporates a digital-age feel. In Vernon, Electric Sleep is a sculptural installation that uses re-purposed objects with sculptural elements juxtaposed with screen culture. It can be seen at the Vernon Public Art Gallery until December 22.

David has also been behind a mural project in Kelowna’s Rutland area that will add a dozen public art pieces by artists from all over Canada, and locally, by the end of the year.

“We’re injecting a lot of energy into the local art scene where we grew up,” said David.

The Doodys describe their work as optimistic—even if it is touching on darker topics. They don’t want people to feel confronted by the work, but rather be invited into it.

Their current work responds to the juxtaposition of staying grounded in the physical world while also existing in a digital realm. It’s a theme that hits home—although the couple grew up in a world where social media was not part of high-school life, their children have a different experience.

Their kids are now 18 and 15 years old, and have both found their own creative niches. Their elder offspring works in creative writing and poetry, as well as game design. Their younger child paints murals and helps with installations.

“Our kids have really had this super-cool opportunity to grow up in a studio environment with some of Canada’s best and most creative minds,” said David, adding they’ve spent time with poets, singers, designers and philosophers.

“Art and our relationship is a real reflection of our belief that it’s worth doing it, and it’s worth doing it well—whether that means having a relationship and being married, raising our kids, making a painting or making a sculpture. We believe that it’s valuable and it’s worth putting all of our life and energy into it. And we really do go all the way,” said David.

“Fully invested,” added Jorden.

Check out their art at twoartists.net.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bella Coola’s new WildSafeBC co-ordinator, Rae Kokeš, has spent the last 10 years in Africa working in lion, human, conflict, and is a wildlife biologist by trade. (Photo submitted)
From the savannas of Africa to the Bella Coola Valley

New Wildsafe BC coordinator ready to tackle wildlife conflict

Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club board member Annika Granander watches, and participates in the gymkhana Sunday (Photo submitted)
Sunshine and smiles all around Bella Coola Ridge Riders Horse Club gymkhana

The event was the first of the year, with COVID-19 safety precautions in place

A build up of lint in a clothes dryer is believed to have caused a house fire in Alexis Creek Sunday evening, April 4, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Clothing dryer suspected cause of Alexis Creek home fire, owner wants to warn others

Neil Miller is thankful he still has his horses, community support and his life

This will be the second year the Bella Coola Valley Rodeo won’t take place due to the pandemic. (Michael Wigle file photo)
Bella Coola Valley Rodeo cancelled for 2021

Club organizers say next year’s rodeo will be bigger and better than ever

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Most Read