Today we have a guest post from Wanda Ellerbeck, one of the five artists participating in the Artist Ranch Project. Her work will be on display at the Western Art Show in the Western Oasis during the 10-day Stampede
I have had a busy and creative life for which I am grateful. My career spans classical dance, art and arts education. My company, Grotto Designs, led the development of the decorative concrete industry in Western Canada for fifteen years. I received a Master degree of Fine Art from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and have taught in post-secondary art colleges across Canada. Currently, I teach community classes from my studio and at the Alberta college of Art and Design. I have exhibited across Canada and continue to draw, paint, make sculpture, and teach. My art practice employs many mediums and is grounded in my response to the mysteries of nature and life.
My family homesteaded in Alberta in 1904 and I spent childhood summers and a great deal of time as an adult on the Hereford Farm near Lloydminster, Alberta. Working fire lookouts for the Alberta Forest Service reinforced the deep respect I have for nature and the interconnectedness of people and the land. I love the mountains and foothills of Alberta. Inspiration often takes me by surprise. Sometimes the smallest glimpse or connection precipitates the journey into my work.
My visit to OH ranch was a wonderful experience echoing the memories, images, smells and textures of my childhood. I was inspired by the presence of other artists and by the people who still live and work in that historic environment. My strongest impression was the relief I felt that the land and its profound beauty would be preserved. This experience inspired me to reach deeply into my responses. I discovered a profound respect for the traditional western art I grew up with but paid little attention to. Silversmithing and leatherwork of western artists speak broadly about this passing way of life. I wanted to address this significance and reference it in the textures and materials of my art. The evidence of time on the land and the delicate balance between nature and the life of a rancher directs this body of work.
I am grateful for the opportunity to visit the fantastic OH ranch and to be involved in this contemporary art project. The ranch has deep history and the Artist Ranch Project in its continuing engagement with artists helps to educate and share these special places. The generosity of our hosts and the hard work of the committee made this residency an inspiring experience. I love the mixture of contemporary art with the historical richness of the ranching life.