I made my first connection to Albert County in September 2010, shortly after arriving in Canada. I was about to attend Mount Allison University as an exchange student. At that time, I was going to school at American University in Washington, DC. During my first week in New Brunswick I befriended Alla, a joyful Cape Bretoner who was always planning a new adventure. She invited me to go kayaking and eat sticky buns in Alma. The scenic coastal drive from Sackville to Alma was markedly different from the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan region where I grew up. I fell in love with Albert County right away, and have felt a strong connection to this special part of the world ever since.
When hiking in the Fundy Region, I found my mood always changed for the better- I was calmed, exhilarated, and rejuvenated. I wanted to communicate this phenomenon, nature’s ability to affect the spirit, through artwork. The beauty, drama, and diversity of the lands of this area move me to capture my feelings and sensations in paint.
After graduating, I tagged along with my then-boyfriend (now husband), Marc, as he installed signs for the Fundy Biosphere Reserve's Amazing Places program. This was a great opportunity to spend two weeks visiting many of Westmorland, Albert and Saint John Counties most iconic landscapes. I brought my camera and took photos everywhere we went. I've always been a big fan of the photography of Ansel Adams and his depiction of the American Southwest. The majestic scale of the places we visited- Crooked Creek Look Off, Waterside and Dennis Beaches, the Eye of the Needle at Walton Glen Gorge, Martin Head, the Fossilized Sand Dunes, Mary’s Point, Shepody Marsh and several points along the Fundy Footpath--reminded me of Adams’ photographs. I found these landscapes to be incredibly inspiring artistically, on par with other stunning natural places I had visited travelling around the world. I was also amazed by how many unique experiences were available within the region.
The photos I took during that trip became the inspiration for my first cohesive collection of oil paintings, Our Beautiful Biosphere, shown at the Moncton Gallery in 2016. To make these paintings, I referred to my photos and tapped into my memory of these places. When hiking, I am highly sensitive to the shifting of light, interaction of colours, arrangement of shapes, and variety of textures. In my artwork, I exaggerate colours that may only appear in a photo subtly in order to recreate the shimmering light, vibrant energy, and delicate motions of a landscape.
Since my show, Our Beautiful Biosphere, I have continued to build momentum for my art career. I had another solo exhibition, entitled Into the Fundy Forest, at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre in 2018. Into the Fundy Forest depicts places found along the Fundy Footpath and in Fundy National Park. Its large oil paintings feature Matthew's Head, Caribou Plains, Coppermine, and Dickson Falls Trails in Fundy National Park, as well as the Eye of the Needle at Walton Glen Gorge, a ravine off the beaten path, and a photo my father-in-law took of the Fundy bush before the development of the Fundy Footpath in the 1980s.
For the past two summers, some of my Into the Fundy Forest paintings have also hung in the Octopus' Garden Café in Alma. It's important to me that my artwork is shared with the people who know and enjoy these places. Through my paintings, I aim to evoke in my audience the same attachment I feel, along with an appreciation for the intrinsic value of these places. In my experiences as a hiker, trail volunteer, and artist, I've found that people protect what they love. Building connections to Albert County's (and beyond!) fantastic natural places is the best way to ensure they are preserved, in their own right, and to benefit future generations as I have benefited from them.
For more information on Trails, see Exploring Our Trails.