A four-day backpacking trek into the wilds of the Selkirk mountain range in Glacier National Park opened up a whole new world for Tal Marsolais, a 24-year-old artist from Hepburn, Saskatchewan.
She was one of a dozen artists from across Canada who took part in the ‘Art in the Park’ program in July hosted by Parks Canada, the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre and the Alpine Club of Canada. The artist residency program, which began in 2008, provides visual artists with special access to a remote area of Rogers Pass, where they gather inspiration and create works showcasing the area.
“It was incredible,” said Marsolais in an interview. in mid-August. “Easily the most fulfilling week of my life. They gave us a guide and sent us into Glacier National Park, where we spent our days creating and painting and photographing. At night we stayed in rustic Alpine Club huts.”
Marsolais, a painter and graphic designer who grew up in Hepburn, said immersing herself in the alpine atmosphere helped her see landscapes in a whole new light.
“It was a spiritual experience,” she said. “Very deep and very personal. I felt like I was absorbing the spirit of the place.”
Translating that experience onto an artist’s canvas can be challenging.
“But I’ve found that I’m actually drawing on what I learned at acting school; with its emphasis on ‘sense memory’,” she said.
“That’s where you recall the feelings, the thoughts, the sights, the smells, of being in the moment, and through that recollection, translating those feelings and sights and thoughts into your visual art.”
Marsolais and the other artists who took part in this year’s residency program are currently completing their works, which will be exhibited in Revelstoke, BC beginning October, 26, 2018. From there, the art exhibit will be shown at galleries across the country.
Marsolais said during the trek in the mountains, she took photographs and did sketches. These will provide the basis of her paintings for the exhibit.
Not all the artists taking part in the trek are painters.
“It was a broad range of people,” said Marsolais, who was the youngest participant. “A very diverse, talented group to be around for four days. I found it very inspiring.
“There were photographers, potters, sculptors. There was one woman who makes prints using sun-dyed fabric. Another person made jewelry.”
Marsolais,who now makes her home in Saskatoon, said the experience has given her a fresh perspective on the prairie landscape of her home province.
“I think I appreciate Saskatchewan more now,” she said. “The mountains are beautiful, but there is beauty all around us. You just have to be open to seeing it.”
Marsolais’ art can be accessed online at her website www.talmarsolais.com and on social media vehicles twitter/instagram/facebook @talmarsolais .