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Big Lake Artists showcase fresh perspectives

The big six are Carol Donald, Rayma Peterson, Doris Charest, Bruce Thompson, Wayne Gorman and Carol Pylypow
Mosaic artist Carol Donald is one of six artists from Big Lake Artists' Studios showcasing a collection at VASA until Nov. 26. ANNA BOROWIECKI/St. Albert Gazette

St. Albert has an astonishing number of local visual artists exploring the world around us and offering fresh perspectives. A wonderful example is a collection of art from Big Lake Artists' Studio now on display at Visual Arts Studio Association (VASA). 

While some of the work is experimental, other pieces rely on the beauty of tried-and-true methodology —  but always with a distinctive viewpoint. 

The six visual artists contributing to the exhibit are Carol Donald, Rayma Peterson, Doris Charest, Bruce Thompson, Wayne Gorman and Carol Pylypow. 

Carol Donald shapes tile and glass in a way that is meant to awe the visitor and show what can be achieved using imagination and the right tools. In one vertical wall mosaic, she creates a bouquet of flowers surrounded by jagged flames constructed from pieces of broken mirrors. It’s stunning. 

In yet a different style, she embraces sparkle with Bob, a flashy white-shirted mannequin specially commissioned for a luxury interior design show. This cool dude is orchestrated from a mix of salvaged tile and broken tempered glass. 

“I’m the queen of sourcing cheap, free stuff,” Donald said breaking into a laugh. Intrigued by the Steam Punk era with its gears and boxes, she is also big on recycling. Two other pieces showcase throw-away tools, metal pieces, clock faces and rocks to create distinctive mosaics. 

Rayma Peterson takes a more subtle approach. As a professional botanist, she uses nature’s beauty as inspiration. Unlike Donald who currently focuses only on mosaics, Peterson spreads her artistry across several forms of art: embroidery, quilting and visually fragile-looking watercolour paintings of flowers. 

“She’s very soft-spoken, a gentle soul. That’s the best way to describe her,” Donald said describing Peterson’s paintings. 

However, Peterson also displays a different side in her largest contribution. Hanging on a wall, the quilted Tree of Life is about eight feet high and constructed with bold purple, blue and green fabric panels that grab the eye.  

“They’re all separate panels. Each one is a piece of art.” 

Doris Charest, a renowned St. Albert virtual artist and teacher at Campus Saint-Jean, contributed several paintings and a magnificent mobile sculpture hanging from the gallery’s central point.  

“Doris might be our most experimental artist,” said Donald. The sculpture, fabricated from repurposed copper pipe, is constructed with 15 slices of paper bonded to acrylic. Visually delicate, the mobile moves with flexibility and is perfectly balanced. 

Bruce Thompson, an environmental scientist who has traipsed across much of Alberta’s back country, brings little-seen vistas to his acrylic canvasses. While many local artists prefer painting garden flowers, Thompson's trademark pieces are out-of-the-way places: swamps, mountains, thick forests and falling timber. 

“He paints places that are difficult to walk through,” said Donald. “His style is quite distinctive. He’s a landscape impressionist. “ 

Métis artist Wayne Gorman instead captures the spirituality of Indigenous culture in two of his movement filled paintings, Spirit Dancer and Spirit Walker. And Carol Pylypow’s mixed media paintings are a reflection of other countries and her love of travel. 

VASA will continue to showcase Big Lake Artists' Studio collection until Saturday, Nov. 26. 

Anna Borowiecki

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