An artist’s pursuit of at-risk species has brought her to Gabriola Island.
Artist Joanne Salé of Vernon is the latest participant of the Gabriola Arts Council’s four-month Kasahara Gabriola Trust Artist Residency. This is Salé’s first time on Gabriola and she said “it would actually be pretty easy to stay here.”
“It’s been great and the house itself looks out over the water and so I’m constantly battling to not be completely distracted by the view,” she said. “And everybody’s really friendly. I’ve met quite a few people which is surprising for me because generally I’m a bit of an introvert.”
For the past two and a half years Salé has been creating a body of work focused on species on the Canadian Species at Risk Act List. So far she’s covered species in the B.C. Interior and across Canada but on Gabriola she’ll be addressing coastal species like murrelets and cormorants for the first time.
Salé, who works in a variety of media including print-making, sculpting, drawing and installations, said she plans on creating an installation featuring motion-activated sculptures of sea birds that flutter as viewers walks by.
“It’s involving a lot of learning new skills,” she said. “I’ve actually used motion sensors and motors and switches in my work before, but I’ve always had someone help me with those things. Now I want to actually learn to do that for myself.”
Salé said extinction rates are accelerating and it’s an issue she feels strongly about not only as a former naturalist, trail guide and head of exhibits at the Okanagan Science Centre, but as “part of this living world.”
“It feels quite urgent to me and it feels like it’s very easy to go about your day and not notice what’s happening,” she said. “So I’m just channeling a bit of frustration into some of the pieces and also there’s an educational component to them, too, bringing awareness.”
Salé plans to exhibit her work at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre in the first half of February 2022.