We know our Show + Sale artists go above and beyond, and graduating BFA Painting student Elise Findlay (she/her) is no exception. This month, we asked her to share some of her experiences as a member of the Clematis Collective, an art-making and mental health support group that she helps lead in the AUArts community.
Interview with Elise Findlay
Q: “Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a part of the Clematis Collective.”
Q: “The Clematis Collective just had a group show at the school's Marion Nicoll Gallery "The Place I Am". That must be exciting! What was the exhibition about?”
Q: “Tell me about your piece in the exhibition: "The Source".”
Q: “You mentioned that as a landscape artist, it's important to have personal connection to the land. How do you navigate a genre that is both so universal yet so specific to personal experience?”
A: The landscape genre in Canada is surprisingly complex. It’s not just about painting a pretty place. Landscape art has a major role in indigenous and settler history, and we all have to reflect on its role historically in colonization. Landscapes aren’t just about places, they’re about homes and the communities that live there too. When I create my art, I stay genuine by depicting landscapes that I have personal connections to. Having lived in Banff for years, I feel like the landscape here is an integral part of my identity. It might sound weird, but it feels like the mountains are my friends. I get a sense of belonging from seeing the sunlight hit the landscape at different times of the year, how the snow settle in ridges, where animals and humans tread. During the lockdowns, so many of us turned to the landscape for connection and I’m no exception. It made many people realize the importance of place in their lives and gave them a new appreciation of home. I try to honour the places I love by making art and respecting nature when I’m in it.
Me and my recent installation "Under The Mountain's Shadow" in Banff. Photo credit: Elise Findlay.
Q: “What's the next step in your artistic journey?”
A: Once I graduate, I want to pursue an MFA at the University of Calgary, so I can keep making art close to home. I definitely want to continue the bodies of work I’m making in my undergrad about connection to place. I’m also considering getting another masters that would complement my previous undergrad degree in sociology and comparative religion. The end goal is to establish a community-based art studio in Banff so I can give back to the community. I want to create a space that gives access to art education, supplies, and equipment to make art-making more accessible and maybe have a gallery space for artists to sell their work. Graduation is just the beginning!
The view I see from my studio at home. Bonus: My dog Kuma keeps me company! Photo credit: Elise Findlay.
Elise Findlay is a visual artist based in Banff, Alberta. Having grown up in the mountains she has developed a deep love of her home landscape and community, which is a central theme and inspiration in her art. Through her landscapes Elise explores the complexities of a place and how humans interact, navigate, and experience the natural world. It is this interaction, along with memory, that Elise uses to build and layer her landscapes employing a variety of media. Elise is currently in her final year of study at Alberta University of the Arts, in Calgary, majoring in Drawing with a minor in Object Design. Along with her studies Elise sits on the Public Art Committee for the Town of Banff. She is a lifelong learner, as well as her certificate as a Red Seal Cabinetmaker, her work as a draftsman and CNC programmer/operator, she has an undergrad degree from Dalhousie University in Sociology and Comparative Religion. After Elise has finished her undergrad at AUArts she plans to continue onto a masters as well as establish a studio in Banff to continue, through her artwork, to explore this dramatic and inspiring Canadian landscape and the human impact and interactions with it.