Coupland's Art of Chemical Warfare


From Macleans (June 11, 2001)

Novelist Douglas Coupland's first love was art. The West Vancouver- based author (Generation X, Girlfriend in a Coma) graduated from the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design in 1984 and had a solo sculpture show three years later. Now, Coupland has re-emerged as a sculptor at Vancouver's Monte Clark Gallery with Spike, a series of enlargements of toy plastic soldiers and of plastic bottles for household cleaners and other products. The work was inspired by real-life misfortune. In 1999, Coupland's niece was born missing her left hand and part of her forearm. She was among 30 newborns with malformed limbs in the North Shore of British Columbia's Lower Mainland. A few years later, medical authorities concluded that the rise in limb abnormalities was not statistically significant enough to justify further investigation. Coupland's family, who suspects some toxic agent was responsible for the defects, was left angry and frustrated, and the writer found himself drawn back to the sculpture studio.