Inspired Artworks Give Glimpse Into Alberta’s History; Heritage

A new series of paintings by Alberta artists will help to connect Albertans with the province’s ancient landscapes.

"Cabins" by Gregg Johnson depicts life during the fur trade
“Cabins” by Gregg Johnson depicts life during the fur trade

The Heritage Art Series features four original artworks that are the result of the collaboration of Edmonton area artists working with Alberta Culture’s Archaeological Survey and researchers from the University of Alberta and the Royal Alberta Museum.

“The Heritage Art Series demonstrates how culture is able to connect the past with the present and provide insights that can help guide us forward into the future. Through these exciting and creatively diverse works, Albertans can learn more about our natural world and the people, places and events that have combined to shape the Alberta identity.” ~ Heather Klimchuk, Minister of Culture

“As a gallery owner, I am excited to be part of a project that brings Alberta’s history and culture to life through art. As an artist, the scene I depicted suited my painting style perfectly, allowing me to play with paint and colour to create the dramatic sky that must have been viewed after the Mazama Ash Fall. This project has introduced the other artists and me to some fascinating historic events that I had no knowledge of before this painting but am now interested to learn more about.” ~ Karen Bishop, Artist/Co-owner, Daffodil Gallery

The diverse artwork is shown in a poster series that took top honours in a recent competition hosted by the Archaeological Society of Alberta. Development of the posters presents opportunities to share the artwork and historical stories they tell. The series will also help to illustrate the importance of heritage preservation and conservation.

Works in the Heritage Art Series include:

Rock Art
Artist: Anne McCartney

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is nestled into the winding valleys and coulees along Milk River in southern Alberta. The park is a rocky canvas of ancient and historic art that spans many centuries.

Anne McCartney’s layered painting of the Milk River Valley shows a looming sandstone cliff that has witnessed a steady flow of First Nations, traders, miners, explorers, and farmers passing through the valley and a rock art panel depicting important events in the deep past.

Mazama Ash
Artist: Karen Bishop

The Mazama Ash scene painted by Karen Bishop depicts a surreal landscape in southern Alberta as it might have looked 7,600 years ago following a major volcanic eruption. The large amount of airborne particles would have caused intense lightning storms as well as dramatic sunrises and sunsets.

Ice Fishing
Artist: Jenny Keith

The ice fishing scene painted by Jenny Keith celebrates the ingenuity of Aboriginal winter fishing adaptations, the importance of organic tools and the contribution women made to traditional diets.

The piece is a symbolic representation of the relationship between people and fish. It depicts a woman teaching her daughter how to hear the story of fish who are circling below the ice.

Artist: Gregg Johnson

Artist Gregg Johnson captures the solitude of the trapper’s life and the beauty of the changing seasons in his watercolour “Cabins”. The fur trade played a pivotal role in Alberta history and the archaeological and anthropological study of trappers’ cabins reveals the rigours of fur trade life and the changing adaptations of First Nations and Métis people engaged in the fur trade.