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

Flight with COVID
Another Kelowna flight with COVID-19 exposure

Westjet flight on April 5 from Kelowna to Edmonton

Penticton fire truck
Residents evacuated after apartment fire in Penticton

The fire started in an apartment on Government Street Saturday night

Lori Jantz snapped this picture of a fight between a bald eagle and an osprey above Osoyoos Lake on Friday. (Lori Jantz photo)
Battle in the sky erupts above South Okanagan lake

Bald eagle and osprey fight mid-air in Osoyoos

This garbage bin behind a strip mall in Skaha Lake Road was set alight on Friday night at 11 p.m. The foam from firefighters can be seen on the ground. (Facebook)
Dumpster fire comes too close to Penticton seniors’ complex

One resident worries Penticton might have a fire bug

The Town of Oliver is lobbying for funds to fix part of an irrigation system damaged by a rock slide last year that would have a huge impact on farmers and the entire region. File photo
Province to finish funding for Oliver irrigation system repairs

The irrigation system was damaged after a rockslide in 2016

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[CDC]
More COVID-19 exposures reported at schools in Kelowna

Interior Health added additional schools and dates to their list of exposures

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

Most Read