B.C.-based climate activist and photographic artist Desirée Patterson in her home studio. | Supplied / Desiree PattersonScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Desirée Patterson always has climate change in her view. You could say that the world is her art: her inspiration, her canvas and lately even her studio.

The British Columbia photographic artist and climate activist is set for a three-day residency at Mountain Galleries this weekend. The highlight of the weekend will be her artist presentation, the substance of which will cover both topics.

“My artist talk, in general, is something that is a combination of how my path came to be creating work around the subject matter of environmental situations that I felt very, very deeply about. How I decided after a lot of fear and resistance to allow myself to be vulnerable and to start making work about what I wanted to put out into the world opposed to what was commercially viable,” she said.

“It was this really pivotal time for me as an artist. I was terrified if I started making work about topics of deforestation, for example, that I would no longer be able to sustain myself as a professional artist. Eventually, I just bit the bullet, and I had an exhibition.”

That path has not been a short one to get where she is now. She previously travelled across four continents visiting 40 countries, and her camera was right there with her. Beyond the usual tourist-y picture-snapping of interesting sights and people, she found her attention drawn to the wasted landscapes and scenes of devastation from industrialization and environmental destruction.

As a conscientious and observant artist and as a mother of a young child, she has been inspired by the subject matter of Edward Burtynsky and the processes of 19th century British artist Anna Atkins in making her own work about climate change. 

Ocean plastics, drought, sustainability, social justice and food insecurity are just a few of the real concerns that pervade her daily thoughts and hence her artistic practice.

While she is in town, Patterson will be using local ice, snow and other non-chemical materials for a new series using cyanotype printmaking. A public art commission four years ago inspired her to take the method and turn it into something more unique in her other work, she explained.

“I’m essentially using this cyanotype process, which is a 200-year-old process of cameraless photography, to record and document the process of ice forming and melting on paper,” she said.

“It’s basically UV-sensitive solution applied to a substrate in darkness, and then once I take that out into the sunlight, it starts to create an exposure.”

When she isn’t in the gallery, you might happen past her as she works out in the environment. After all, that’s where she gets her raw materials.

“I think it’s really interesting to look at what forms of technology from the past worked,” she said.

“In this body of work, I have some compositions that are the original prints that I have created through putting ice and snow and whatnot on to this photosensitive paper and letting it do these long exposures in the field in nature.”

Patterson will be at the gallery between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from March 9 to 11. Her artist talk will take place on Saturday at 5 p.m. Mountain Galleries is located on the Lake Level Promenade at Jasper Park Lodge.

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 06, 2024 at 12:00

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

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