In Alyson Davies’s Blue Earth Tarot, a grid of seventy-eight cyanotype tarot cards envelops a series of eight windows at the Lafarge Lake–Douglas SkyTrain Station. Created as playing cards and thought to originate from Italy in the fourteenth century, tarot cards were imbued with occult meaning by the eighteenth century. Today, they provide a tool for self-reflection. Davies’s Blue Earth Tarot series (2022) embraces seasonality and astrology. The whimsy and tenderness of this deck and the invitation for play offers a delightful contrast to the viewer’s routine experience of the street and transit station.
The artist used a slow photographic process that brought together light and handmade collage to create this meditative tarot deck. The deck’s imagery began with sketches, a collection of landscape photos taken by the artist’s grandmother, and Davies’s photographs of plants and animals in the wintertime. The resulting vignettes are rich with symbolism. The deck’s Minor Arcana suits – representing the daily ups and downs of life – are named in a traditional manner, but their symbols have been adapted: water droplets (cups), clouds (swords), sticks (wands), and hands (pentacles). The Major Arcana – which represents principles, concepts, and ideals that inform big life events – mixes nature-based imagery with inclusive human forms. Each card suggests a story untold or path yet to be taken. The immersive, intricately detailed installation invites viewers to choose their own reading of the artwork as they move forward on their journey.
Blue Earth Tarot public art installation is a partnership project by the Art Gallery at Evergreen, Evergreen Cultural Centre, and TransLink.