Artist shares home life in drawings

Visual arts: Gallery featuring charcoal creations by British Columbia resident

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 08:33 am

British Columbia artist Debra Rushfeldt captures the unique surroundings of her neighbourhood with detailed charcoal drawings. The exhibit, titled Under Box Mountain, will be on display at the Okotoks Art Gallery’s large gallery from Jan. 10 to Feb. 22.
British Columbia artist Debra Rushfeldt captures the unique surroundings of her neighbourhood with detailed charcoal drawings. The exhibit, titled Under Box Mountain, will be on display at the Okotoks Art Gallery’s large gallery from Jan. 10 to Feb. 22.
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A former Calgarian is creating charcoal drawings that bring to life the British Columbia neighbourhood she called home for the last 12 years.

Artist Debra Rushfeldt created an array of 20 detailed charcoal drawings of items she found on her neighbours’ property in her rural community of Crescent Bay in Nakusp and hopes people will get a feel for life in Crescent Bay with her unique exhibit.

The art will be displayed at the Okotoks Art Gallery’s large gallery from Jan. 10 to Feb. 22 in an exhibit called Under Box Mountain.

“It speaks about the richness of our area, the simple wealth we have in an area that’s actually quite poor,” she said. “That’s what people came here for. They want that simple life.”

The idea for the project came after Rushfeldt was awarded an exhibition grant a few years ago to highlight her community.

Rushfeldt was inspired by the lifestyle of those who live in the area. She said the region is filled with healers, environmentalists and artists.

“These are people that are very earthy people,” she said. “I thought this is very indicative of who they are.”

Nakusp's population sits at approximately 1,400 people and the neighbourhood of Crescent Bay at the bottom of Box Mountain has about 100 people. The closest large centre is a two-hour drive away.

“What I found interesting about it is because of the history of the area it attracts a certain type of person,” she said. “They’re dreamers. They want to be self-sufficient. It’s quite interesting to see how people make their mark on the land and what actually ends up happening.”

While living in Calgary, Rushfeldt was known for her media assemblage paintings and initially planned to delve into the medium when considering the project.

“I decided to wander around and look at different people’s properties,” she said. “Rather than gathering objects and composing with the objects I decided to draw objects. Some of the drawings would take me up to two months to do. They are quite detailed, bordering on photo-realism.”

Over the last three years, Rushfeldt found artistic comfort in charcoal due to its ability to capture the depth and details of simple items worn, weathered and covered in moss.

“I like the moody feeling it gives,” she said. “The area I live in is quite dark and very rich and shadowy. I felt like the charcoal gave it that moody feeling.”

As Rushfeldt drew images of gardens, water boxes, bricks and wood, she learned about her own emotional connection to her surroundings.

Rushfeldt said she hopes those who view her work will appreciate beautiful art can be made from humble images.

“Since I’m an Albertan myself I’m pretty sure they are going to relate really well to it,” she said. “They are looking at pretty rural images. Most people will have similar things in their yards.”

Rushfeldt said this is the first time the project has been displayed in Alberta.

An opening reception will take place at the Okotoks Art Gallery on Jan. 10 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information about Debra Rushfeldt go to www.debrarushfeldt.com


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