Edmonton artist Maria Whiteman visits Vernon's Allan Brooks Nature Centre as part of the Fresh AiR (artist in residence) program.

Edmonton artist Maria Whiteman visits Vernon's Allan Brooks Nature Centre as part of the Fresh AiR (artist in residence) program.

Artist explores air for residency

Caetani Cultural Centre and Allan Brooks Nature Centre welcomes Edmonton artist Maria Whiteman as Fresh! AiR artist in residence.

Edmonton artist Maria Whiteman is breathing in some Fresh! AiR as the first artist in residence to take part in this year’s collaborative program between the Caetani Cultural Centre and the Allan Brooks Nature Centre.

Whiteman comes to the Fresh! AIR program, which focuses on the intersection of art and the environment, from the fine arts department at Edmonton’s University of Alberta, where she has taught graduate courses in contemporary art theory and studio courses in mixed media, photography, video, drawing and installation art.

Whiteman works primarily in video and photography, and is also working on a longer project that will take the form of a book. While in Vernon, her work will focus on air, a topic she’s been thinking about and exploring in previous bodies of work.

“Air has become something I’m strongly drawn to visually because you can’t see it, but carries a significant importance because it becomes an object on its own, in our minds, as if we can see it in our consciousness as a form, hence, an element,” she said.

Whiteman’s focus will be on objects and other phenomena that have a direct relationship to air, such as breath, the flight of birds, bubbles, clouds, and more. The aviary specimens in the taxidermy collection at the Allan Brooks Nature Centre have already caught her eye and imagination.

“I want to only film the tops of everything to keep the focus away from the objects but with the focus on the sky and to keep in mind the significance between object and air,” said Whiteman.  “The mediums I will work with are video and photography. I see this project as an installation and also a book that I am putting together on the four elements.”

Also new to the Fresh! AiR program is Vernon artist and curator Katie Brennan, who will oversee programming and events for this summer’s artists and further activate and connect them to the community. Both the Caetani Centre and the Allan Brooks Nature Centre are looking forward to working with Brennan to bring additional educational and networking opportunities to artists in the North Okanagan community.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what Maria Whiteman produces while she’s here,” said Brennan. “Her work has a lovely, poetic quality to it. Her video work of walking across various landscapes and her encounters with stuffed animals are strikingly lovely and call for you to pause in your daily encounters with your immediate surroundings.”

Whiteman gives a public talk at the Caetani Cultural Centre, 3401 Pleasant Valley Rd., Thursday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m. Parking is limited, so visitors are asked to use available street parking nearby. The talk is free of charge.