images/visuals on this page are a sample from both the Rural Prairie
Communities series and the Alberta Icon series; which will be on exhibit
at the Western Showcase, Calgary Stampede
July 9th – 18th, 2010
Karen is honoured to be invited and to accept being one of two Featured Artists for the Western Showcase, Calgary Stampede 2010.
Karen’s Feature Artist Western Showcase exhibit will include published watercolours from the “Rural Prairie Communities (RPC) series, as well as her unpublished Alberta Icon series. The RPC series includes a grain elevator in every painting, and in some paintings the community and surrounds. This work ranges in size from full size watercolour sheets to quarter size watercolour sheets. The Alberta Icon series presents the iconic grain elevator in the Alberta landscape in miniature format.
The Rural Prairie Communities watercolour paintings reflect and contemplate upon the sense of time, space and place of rural Alberta, in which I have inhabited. As a third generation European pioneer descendant, I am well versed in the myths of “the West”. These myths and perceptions have shaped the direction of my arts practice and my life experiences. My voice tells the story of my personal experience with these myths, and of the hopes and the dreams of many Albertans, Canadians, and others who share a similar heritage.
The watercolour paintings delve into the visual relics and the social myths of the West. One of the prominent early eastern Canadian myths used to promote development of the West, including Alberta, was that of the West as the promised land. The physical manifestation of this conception and of that subsequent pioneering spirit resulted in the growth of hamlets, villages, and towns in Alberta. These small clusters of European presence rapidly led to the development of larger urban centres in the province.
The paintings refer to remembering the cultural heritage of Alberta’s beginnings in small rural places. For many Albertans and Canadians, this collection reflects on the heritage of many generations whose family ties go back directly to the land and to these small rural places that provided services for them. My maternal grandfather was one of the first European pioneers who began cultivating the land. My husband’s maternal and paternal grandfathers were also among these first settlers. My life has been steeped in reflections of the land, the subsequent urbanization of the prairies, and prairie culture. Both my mother and my mother-in-law are and were the family historians, and I was the recipient of their oral storytelling skills. Countless other Albertans and Canadians share this same heritage.
The paintings reflect upon the contemporary dialogue of the cultural milieu of the social and physical fabric of Alberta’s rural communities. The collection provides a forum for exploration, critical dialogue and critiquing of the myths, development and perceptions of the history and development of the province within a national framework. For those who have never experienced rural Alberta life, the paintings give them a true flavour of the place and time of these communities, and an opportunity for contemplation. This experience, with but scant exceptions, has passed from Alberta’s landscape as there are few remaining grain elevators in the province.”