Over the Family Day long weekend, my husband and I, along with 3 other couples from the Wood Buffalo Photography Club, journeyed up the winter road to Fort Smith, NWT. Traveling over frozen rivers and icy marshes, through lush forests and over winding sand hills, the trip is an experience like none other. Having made the trip before we knew more of what to expect and added an extra day to soak up the experience.
The first day we drove all the way from Fort McMurray to Fort Smith, arriving 11 hours later with our hearts full from the foxes, ptarmigan and northern hawk owls that came into our view. The beautiful white ptarmigan were on the top of my wish list so I was over the moon to finally see them! The road North takes us through a variety of landscapes, each of them stunning in their own special way. The next morning, in particularly frigid temperatures, we were privy to a lovely soft sunrise, with the fog from the Pelican Rapids streaming across the Slave River valley. We made our way back through Wood Buffalo National Park where we saw many signs of the bison who make their home there but they chose to stay tucked out of sight. The next night was spent in Fort Chipewyan where we were greeted with a huge sun dog over the Canadian Shield and we had the opportunity to learn about some local history at the Bicentennial Museum. I am eager to visit Fort Chipewyan in the summer months and see it when all the ice has melted. It is an absolutely stunning area with a rich history.
Our last stretch back home was a snowy day but we were delighted to see great grey owls and witness a flurry of activity involving an otter, a snowshoe hare and some panicking ptarmigan. I'm already wondering what wonderful things we will see on our next journey North.
The Alberta Legislative Assembly Office operates a beautiful retail store called Alberta Branded. Each year they have a juried showcase around a specific theme and I have the honour of being one of ten Albertan artists who will create new works for this year's exhibition. The theme is Façonner, which means to shape, fashion or mould. New works will be created all year long and I'm eager to continue to explore the theme, allowing it to unfold and adapt over these next months. I'm also quite intrigued to see the works of the other artists and how they have approached the theme from their own medium and point of view!
Façonner: We shape to adapt a form, thereby directing a course. We fashion to reflect personal style and the current nature of the world. We mould to influence, creating a matrix. - Alberta Branded
The artwork I have created (and will continue to create this year) for Façonner is rooted in natural elements. Each piece is formed in response to the unfolding story I see revealed to us through Creation. Extracting basic lines and shapes from the intricate natural world, I explore an elemental approach to my experiences. Observing light, colours, shapes and lines, the subjects are deconstructed then fashioned into layered mixed media artworks. Natural materials (like birch bark and wildflowers collected to dye fabric and paper) are incorporated into each piece along with conventional materials (like acrylic, watercolour, paper and clay). The process of gathering and preparing materials allows me to infuse more of what I encounter into each work.
My story reflects the observations and reflections within the beauty of the Province of Alberta, including our five National Parks and my home in the Northern boreal forest. As I continue to witness the unfolding story around me, I am left with a peaceful clarity that has shaped my life. Reflecting these experiences and this clarity are integral parts of these works.