My work is primarily focused on place, the large views and the small details that evoke connection. As a visual artist born, raised, and based in Banff, AB, I project an internal understanding and knowledge of place to capture the essence of my surroundings. Rooted in a deep connection to the land, my work explores the intricate relationship between identity and place. Inspired by the people, flora, and fauna of my home, my art reflects a profound connection and accountability to the ecosystems we are all a part of. Through a diverse range of mediums, and process driven practices, I go beyond conventional depictions of place, delving into my own identity and experiences. Emphasizing authenticity over idealization, I invite viewers to reflect on their own relationship with the environment, fostering understanding and promoting the preservation of our natural world. Within the solidity of place, a sense of community, connection, and belonging endures.
This body of work began with an examination and a sculptural expression of my past experiences, and by extension, the challenges faced by women working in the construction trades. Through material and process I explored memories of my previous life, resulting in a series of fibre sculptures, which, while referencing woodworking tools, have become strange canvas shells. Each sculpture is a duplication that is and is not. The installation represents a place that no longer exits for me, yet it also is a starting point. Something here goes beyond the original idea and the process. It is a beginning, a way to explore transformation, and how, while I used to be a cabinetmaker, like the sculptures themselves, I am now something new.
Photo credit: Leia Guo
Photo credit: Leia Guo
Photo credit: Leia Guo
Photo credit: Leia Guo
Photo credit: Leia Guo
There is a moment, where you know a place so well, where a lifetime of memories are layered in a single path or sound, where the self disappears. It feels like the difference between being and belonging, between a place being a part of your history, and you being a part of its. My practice explores the experience of place, and how our understanding of self can be expressed in the attachment we have to particular landscapes. This series of mixed media artworks explores how we experience place, the connections and the tensions, the accountability and the limits. In Between examines my presence in my home of Banff and the strange existence and dissolution of boundaries that exist here.
This series of works contemplates how human presence within blurred spaces of natural and urban can be both one of melding into the ecosystem and being apart from it. It examines the tensions that come from having one’s identity tied to the land.
Iterations Of Self
Created during the AUArts SA Hear/d Residency in the 2020/2021 year, "Iterations of self" expresses the fluctuations in my mental health over time, exploring its influences and effects. Throughout the month of march, and the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, while still very much in isolation, I recorded my mental well being. I transformed this record into parametrically programmed variables that animate a digital drawing, recording the impact of these changes on the landscape.
This work represents at once a diary-like record of myself and the ways mental health can change our perception of our surroundings. By acknowledging this variability, I am examining how mental health is a relationship between the individual and time, that it not something to be ‘fixed,’ rather part of all of us that needs to be recognized and maintained.
A screencast video showing the programming behind the digital drawing.
Linework Landscapes - Drawing
I find in place, community, connection, and belonging that is both fixed in its solidity and flexible in its cycles of change. This collection of linework landscape drawings employ a mixed media approach to create depth and material expression of place. Each represent as connection and an understanding of the landscapes I am beyond fortunate to call home.
This piece is an experiment in depicting the movement and stasis of a frozen waterfall. Based on a trip out to Johnston’s Canyon it contemplates the ways in which elements of the landscape remain stable and solid while others ebb and flow with time.
The Little Hive peak may be smaller than its neighbour, but its steeply slopping face and segmented layers make it just as interesting a formation. It appears along the poplar hiking trail, seemingly out of nowhere, as the hiker emerges from the dense trees below.
This work depicts the view out across the Bow Valley from the Cave and Basin in Banff, where, playing tourist over the winter holidays, we spent a wonderful afternoon re-discovering some of the wonders this place has and the delicate balance that keeps this special ecosystem going. With warm sulphur springs steaming into the winter air, we looked across the wetlands and down into the algae covered ponds, searching for endangered Banff snails.
Currently in the AUArts President’s permanent collection, this piece represents a wonderful afternoon looking down at my home community while playing tourist for a weekend with visiting family.
The first of my linework landscapes, this piece was originally a material experiment that sparked a new direction in my artistic style.
Linework Landscapes - Large Paintings
A selection of larger mixed media paintings, this series is part of my core landscape practice exploring the large views and small details that evoke connection to place. I rely on memory, emotion, and knowledge to depict places that are both specific in their representation of an actual location, and general, in that, the landscapes are built from imagined and remembered routes of travel. Each piece is an abstraction of place, some incorporating distortion of objects and memory, and all expressing deep connection to place.
Created as part of the AUArts Scholarship for a research project, this piece was made in response a lifetime of memories in this place and incorporates the changing patterns of movement, human and animal, within the townsite of Banff as a result of the COVID 19 lockdowns.
An abstraction of the sense of timelessness as well as the lifetimes of memories contained in this unique place. Layering oversized objects and patterns of movement to build up the landscape, this piece expresses my sense of connection to our family place in Pointe au Baril, ON. A place that always feels the same, where time sees generations pass and the place unchanged.
Another piece devoted to our family home in Pointe au Baril, ON.
Created as a piece of public art for the City of Red Deer, “Connection,” is a depiction of Abraham Lake with its storied bubbles. It is a place where people come together to connect with each other and with the land. It depicts the landscape across the seasons, cropped to feel as though you could step into the space.
Linework Landscapes - Medium Scale Works
The idea of making place real through experience is essential in my work. This collection of medium scale paintings expresses this connection by depicting a connection and shared attachment to place rather than an idealized version of space. Layering linework, shading, and colour, my work projects an internal understanding of an external location. I try always in my practice to depict a connection and a shared attachment to place rather than an idealized version of a space.
On the backside of the Lake Louise ski hill, going up the Larch chair, if you turn around there is a view that take my breath away every time. “Turning to Temple” depicts that moment, when you turn to see the iconic mountain, across the valley, where Temple rises above Lake Louise.
Wild Ice depicts one of those rare moments when the ice freezes over before the snow has had a chance to accumulate. This piece, inspired by a magical afternoon skating on Minnewanka, looks across the lake where other skaters dot the ice, and the sun begins to drop below the horizon. Snow clings to the mountain faces as the sky animates in the late afternoon light.
This piece is part of a series of works depicting Abraham Lake. It combines the famed winter bubbles with the warmer colours of spring and autumn in the mountains. The lake is a place of connection and gathering year-round, and the series is a collection of works that depict the view across the lake each with a different interpretation of distance.
Is it any wonder this hike is so popular? The Beehive looks out over Lake Louise to the front and Lake Agnes behind. The cracks that cross its surface give this formation its name as well as a sense of lightness. Topped with a mix of pine and larch trees the face includes cooler colours for the autumn day this work is based on.
With the sun setting behind the trees as the wind drops off and the sky turns pink, another perfect cottage day is finished off with an evening paddle.
Linework Landscapes - Small Paintings
Through layering linework and shading I depict an understanding and a knowledge of place. This idea of making a place real through experience is essential to my work. I employ different mediums and different scales ranging from smaller watercolour and ink drawings to large acrylic and oil pieces on cradled birch panels. This collection is part of my core landscape practice and comprises small scale acrylic on cradled birch panel paintings.
There are places where the Precambrian shield folds in on itself, creating ripples and patterns that seem to draw you in. Looping and wrapping, both fluid and solid, these areas have always held a fascination for me; they seem designed for cottage time, like a meditative walking path for your eyes.
This piece depicts the jumping spot, across from the back beach, where a bolder sits in the split between the two cliff faces. Sitting in the kayak, light shines through the gap between the faces, below the balancing rock. The cliffs feel both impossibly tall and so much smaller than they were as children getting ready to jump.
This piece depicts a rock formation that always draws me in closer when I paddle past it on my way out to the open. It is a spot where the rocks split into ribbons and flows gently into the water, where occasional small boulders balance in the cracks.
It’s the moment when you look up and think, ‘hiking in snowboard boots is a pain’ but this will be worth it!’ Around the rock face, up the ridge, imagining the moment just before you drop into untouched powder, adrenaline up, tip hanging out over the edge, and a deep breath…But for now we walk, one foot in front of another. But I’ll definitely be worth it!!!
Larch season in the mountains is magical, the air is crisp the colours are bright, and with a hint of snow on the ground the yellow larches pop throughout the landscape.
There is a spot between Canmore and Banff, a turnout, that I always pass, wondering what is around the corner. With a view of the back side of Rundle this piece depicts this spot, looking out across the valley and the Bow River working its slow way through the mountains.
This Place - Mixed Media
The mixed media part of the series “This Place”, is a playful use of found objects and a collection of the absurd. It looks at the everyday and uses common imagery and tropes about this place to shift perspectives. Including a coat made of trash and a series of fake souvenirs, these works poke fun, both at representations of Banff, as well as behaviours here, both visitor and local alike. It questions the tourism industry and the ways we consume nature. In this series, I hope to challenge perceptions of my home and my community, to show the everyday in order to question the culture and the perception that values the image of this place over its well being.
Made from stitching together trash collected from within the townsite of Banff, along with repurposed interior materials, this puffy coat is an exploration of how consumerism effects protected ‘natural’ spaces as well as how we experience them.
It is not just visitors that have an impact, my presence here too, raises questions, and while I have no more right to this place than any other visitor, perhaps, I have more responsibility. Just as we all have a responsibility to protect the places that are precious to us.
Thinking about how we consume for memory, and how we consume to occupy our time, this series is a set of fake collectable souvenirs marketed as ‘authentically Banff.’
This Place - Paintings
I live in a postcard. And, like a postcard there are things unseen, behind the picture on the front, there is a story of a community, a life, and the challenges that exist beyond the imagery. This series looks at Banff, my home, the beauty, the absurd, and the everyday experiences here that are so often overlooked. Banff is a place that is depicted in more ways, more times, and by more people than can be counted. Mostly presented as a picturesque town in an untouched wilderness in paint, word, and photo, these images show this town, but perhaps not my community. In This Place, I hope to challenge perceptions, to show the everyday in order to question the culture and the depictions that value the image of this place over its well being.
The first in a series of paintings questioning representations of Banff, this piece, "Date Rape," is a depiction of downtown Banff. Unnerving in the lack of human presence, while a threat seeps from the cracks. For all its serene imagery Banff is not a safe place. Sexual assault is all too common here and it is made worse by the lack of open and honest discussion.
Looking down the train tracks just outside of Banff a common scene plays out. Spilled grain from the train cars draws wildlife in and all to often result in fatal strikes particularly for the larger mammals. Part of a series of paintings that questions the tourist-driven depiction of Banff it also questions what it means to be a human living in the increasingly under pressure Montane Ecoregion.
Created as apart of a series of works looking at the reality of living in a national park versus the image of it, this piece contemplates the impact of accessing natural spaces and my presence in the Bow Valley.
On top of Sleeping Buffalo (Tunnel) Mountain there is a tree. This tree twists and curves, recording a contortion in its youth. It is a touching tree, one that has been smoothed by generations of people resting a hand on its curving hump as they pass by it. It is a talisman, a ritual. Part of a series questioning representations of Banff this work also questions what it what it means to call a place like Banff home.
Created as apart of a series of works looking at the reality of living in a national park versus the image of it, this piece is a cheeky representation of a common scene in Banff. “Sunday Brunch” depicts a raven eating red wine vomit. Playful and ironic the work incorporates my line-work landscape style and bright metallic acrylic paint.
Under the Mountain's Shadow
The research project and artwork, Under the Mountain’s Shadow, created through the AUArts Self-Directed Research Scholarship, in the spring of 2021, explores, and attempts to bring awareness to, the challenges that face residents of, and visitors to, resort towns. Issues that are rarely discussed and even more rarely publicly acknowledged. The beauty of the place and the ‘Peter Pan’ attitude towards life in a resort town has a shadow—a darker side that results in increased rates of sexualized violence, domestic and intimate partner violence, as well as challenges with addictions and mental health.
The Triptych it is built up of trash collected from around the townsite, printed statistics and comments from a survey and research conducted during the project. The trash reflects the disappointing behaviour of visitors and locals alike in the National Park. While the statistics and comments from the survey address sexualized violence, intimate partner violence, addictions, and mental health.
Originally shown in the Marion Nicoll Gallery, in the Fall of 2021, this image shows the inclusion of some of the trash that was collected during the project as part of the installation.