Connecting with Nature Through New Exhibitions
Last weekend brought a special kind of excitement that we haven't experienced in a while - an excitement that can only be felt while coming together with community. On Saturday, January 22nd, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies hosted the first live Exhibition Opening since 2020. Five new installations featuring diverse artists, mediums, and topics were celebrated and explored. Working within the ever-evolving COVID-19 realities, this full-day weekend event allowed time and space for visitors to take in the exhibit, while still having the opportunity to meet and learn from the artists.
Donna Livingstone, CEO of the Whyte Museum, welcomed visitors with words about the importance of connecting with nature.
"I believe that artists are the cultural and environmental first responders," she said.
"They are the ones who notice change in the world around them and their insight – funny, poignant, angry or just plain beautiful – give us an opening into difficult conversations. All of the artists in these five exhibitions are environmental first responders. This is a theme that isn’t accidental."
As you explore these exhibitions, we hope they offer opportunities to reflect on what nature means to you, and how we can best use our place in nature for a better future.
Rockies Repeat: Chasing Beauty in a Disappearing Landscape
January – April 2022
Rockies Repeat: Chasing Beauty in a Disappearing Landscape is a multimedia exhibition
that grapples with the cultural impacts of climate change in the Canadian Rockies.
This diverse collection juxtaposes the landscapes of Catharine Robb Whyte with fresh
interpretations by six contemporary artists. Familiar places are captured and exhibited alongside
Catharine’s earlier paintings. For two years, a team of Indigenous and settler artists trekked into
the mountains to the exact places Catharine painted en plein air nearly a century ago.
Like Robb Whyte, the artists were confronted by the whims of nature but unlike her experience,
these present-day artists endured record-breaking temperatures, horizons obscured by wildfire
smoke, and backdrops besieged by climate change. Catharine’s scenes of majestic peaks,
dense glaciers, and lush thriving forests seem incongruous aside the recent artistic content.
Part of the exhibition experience is Rockies Repeat, a story captured in a short documentary
that is a meditation about human connections to disappearing landscapes. The film explores the
enduring legacy of Catharine Robb Whyte, the importance of sustaining traditions on ancestral
lands, and the impact of a changing climate on our sense of place.
Organizer Caroline Hedin asserted: “I hope this collection reminds you of how central the glacial
landscape of the Rockies is to our identity as mountain people, yet how fragile its future remains
in the face of climate change."
The exhibition is part of the Alberta Exposure Photography festival.
Iconic Rockies: The Photography of John E. Marriott
January – April 2022
The exhibition features images that have defined the impressive career of one of Canada's
most recognized professional wildlife photographers, Canmore resident John E. Marriott.
Marriott is known globally for his spectacular imagery from across Canada.
It is Marriott's iconic wildlife encounters close to home in the Canadian Rockies that have
often resonated the most with his fans and followers. A magical run-in with Canada's most
famous wolf, Delinda; a late-night brush with the legendary grizzly bear The Boss; a two-
day meeting with a mother cougar and her kitten; and a blizzard-induced encounter with a
Marriott’s successful career has resulted in magazine covers, bus wraps, billboards, and the
publication of numerous books. As well as being a Canon Ambassador, Marriott received
special recognition from the international Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
In addition to these accolades, he is an Associate Fellow with the International League of
Conservation Photographers and the co-founder of the Exposed Wildlife Conservancy.
Elise Findlay: Under the Mountain's Shadow
January - April 2022
The installation Under the Mountain’s Shadow explores and brings awareness to the
challenges that face residents and visitors in resort towns. The beauty of the place and the
"Peter Pan" attitude towards life in a resort town has a shadow—a darker side that results in
increased rates of sexualized violence, domestic and intimate partner violence, as well as
challenges with addictions and mental health. These issues are even more challenging because
along with the high turnover of people and the younger population, most business and employers
in resort towns rely on the tourist industry and its accompanying image of pristine natural
beauty—leaving little space to acknowledge, discuss, or improve.
The triptych and installation, depicting a semi-abstract landscape of the town of Banff, is built up
of trash collected from around the townsite, printed statistics, and comments from an informal
survey and research conducted during the project. The trash reflects the less picturesque as well
as the disappointing behaviour of visitors and locals alike in the National Park. While the
statistics from the survey which address sexualized violence, domestic and intimate partner
violence, addictions, and mental health are not perhaps surprising given provincial statistics, they
are hard to face as a community. Yet, there is hope to be found in the Bow Valley. With shifts in
attitudes, new programs to educate and support the community, and an increasing willingness to
talk, the shadow that hangs over this beautiful place many of us love is shifting into the light.
Under the Mountain’s Shadow expresses both the darkness and the light and is part of a larger
ongoing community-building project.