Guests will likely get a case of the feels when they view the VISAC’s first exhibit of 2017.
Stephanie Kellett’s ‘Landscape, Migration and Wildness’ opens with a public reception Friday from 6-8:30 p.m. in the downtown Trail art gallery.
The Slocan Valley artist’s show of serene paintings with accompanying soundscapes created by her partner Robert Livingood, capture reflections of their journey along the Chilcotin River during spawning season.
So why the feels?
There’s been such a fervent desire locally and throughout the Columbia Basin to bring salmon back to the mighty river that Kellett’s images and Livingood’s natural sounds reveal what might be again possible in this region, one day.
“The motivation to create this body of work came during a three week excursion in September of 2014 where myself and my partner/collaborator, Robert E. Livingood, followed one of the largest sockeye salmon runs ever recorded to enter British Columbia’s interior,” Kellett began.
Their journey began at the edge of Tsilhqot’in Territory near Sheep Range Provincial Park, where tens of thousands of sockeye veer west from the Fraser into the milky teal of the Chilcotin River system.
They traversed 170 kilometres across the dry Chilcotin Plateau before reaching the salmon’s destination of glacially-fed Chilco Lake.
“By day we would stand on the banks of the river watching salmon persevere against baffling odds, and at night we slept out where numerous grizzly bears were also gathering for the salmon,” Kellett shared.
“Being immersed in this unadulterated wildness heightened my senses, humbled and terrified me, and left me in awe as I observed the raw process of life, death, and rebirth play out before me in a landscape of incomprehensible beauty. Through this interpretation of the salmon’s journey, I hope to celebrate the Chilcotin Plateau, the salmon, the landscapes they travel through, and the creatures who nourish from them along the way,” she added. “I would also like to celebrate the Tsilhqot’in people who have fiercely protected these lands and continue to work to keep them whole and pristine.”
One piece of Kellett’s ‘Landscape, Migration, & Wildness’ exhibit
Livingood’s audio component is comprised of field recordings taken along the route, as well as a consensual recording of Gilbert Solomon, a Tsilhqot’in Medicine Man, singing ancestral songs for the salmon.
“The soundscape is kind of an attempt to represent the song that is calling the salmon back to their ancestral waters, back to the waters where they spawn from,” Livingood said. “The sound of the river, the sound of the salmon splashing, the sound of the loons as well as the song of the Chilcotin First Nation – it’s their song that honours the fish as they come back.”
Stephanie Kellett is a contemporary illustrative painter of animals and landscapes. She received a Diploma in Fine Arts in 2003, and a Degree in Art History five years later, although Stephanie is a self-taught painter. Her work often involves layers of acrylic washes and glazes on wood materials that tell the stories of landscape through art.
Kellett’s opening reception goes Friday at 6 p.m.
“I first starting using plywood in a series before this,” she explained. “I was painting aerial views of open pit mines and tailing ponds – this (exhibit) is more like pristine environment landscape and that was more like a desecrated environment landscape,” Kellett said. “The reason why I use plywood, I used the birch for this series, is because the material really speaks to clear cut logging and the logging industry. You have to clear cut before you put in an open pit mine so I just feel like it has its own story.”
Kellett has had many solo exhibitions in the West Kootenay and exhibited in juried group shows at Touchstones in Nelson, Kootenay Art Gallery in Castlegar, and Pynelogs in Invermere. She has also created murals in the Slocan Valley, for ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art in Wells and for Re- Imagine Street Art Festival in Penticton. Kellett and has been a commissioned installation artist at Shambhala Music Festival, and also illustrated two books of short stories written by Robert E. Livingood.