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New exhibition features wildlife paintings and ceramics

Kaaren Soby takes her art in a new direction with a wildlife show at the Smithers Art Gallery
Kaaren Soby, foreground right, chats with attendees of a new exhibition reception at the Smithers Art Gallery on March 8. (Thom Barker photo)

An art exhibition at the Smithers Art Gallery is a bit of a stylistic and subject matter departure for artist Kaaren Soby.

Known primarily for her large, abstract representations of flora, the work currently on display at the Main Street gallery features wildlife in a bit more of a realistic style.

Soby was inspired to take on the subject matter for the first time by reports of declining global wildlife populations.

“I am very, very passionate about our wildlife and I have been brought to the brink of despair about the fact that some of our favourite animals are moving toward, definitely endangered species and even extinction, and it breaks my heart,” she said.

“I thought, well, you can’t go around with a broken heart, you have to move on and you have to be positive, and I’m a positive person, fundamentally. Painting puts me in a contemplative, meditative state and it’s a hugely spiritual activity for me and I am communicating with the animals when I’m painting, and I am presenting their essence and their beauty and their magnificence and even their humour, and I feel like I can help out the situation by presenting my interpretation of some of my favourite animals, especially up north here.”

At a very well-attended reception March 8, Michael Witkowski from Timber Mart, the exhibition’s major sponsor, said he was very pleased.

“It’s fantastic, absolutely,” he said. “We’ve known Kaaren and she’s been one of our customers for quite a while at the Timber Mart, so we figured it would be a good thing to do, just to sponsor her and just see what she’s capable of. This is just phenomenal and the turnout is great.

The exhibition also features ceramics work along a similar thematic line by Susan Clay-Smith. Clay-Smith’s contribution includes both sculptural and functional pieces with featuring wildlife motifs.

The show runs until April 6.

Susan Clay-Smith, left, chats with an attendee of a new exhibition reception at the Smithers Art Gallery on March 8. (Thom Barker photo)
A new exhibition at the Smithers Art Gallery features sculptural and functional ceramic pieces by Susan Clay-Smith. (Thom Barker photo)

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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