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Pair of artists embrace nature for newest NorVA exhibit

The NorVA Centre welcomed two out-of-town artists for their latest exhibition to display not only their work, but the finished product of renovations to the centre.
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Artists Ron Scott and Cheryl Zubrack are the creators behind Earth Song, the latest exhibition at the NorVA Centre. - SUBMITTED PHOTO

The NorVA Centre welcomed two out-of-town artists for their latest exhibition to display not only their work, but the finished product of renovations to the centre.

Ron Scott from The Pas and Cheryl Zubrack from Winnipeg teamed up to present Earth Song, featuring Zubrack’s rock portrait paintings and Scott’s wood turnings. It was both artists’first time holding an art exhibition, a fact they shared with a captive audience during their artist’s talk.

Mike Spencer manages the NorVA Centre and said giving long-time artists the chance to display their work is exactly what NorVA is for.

“You just need to be an artist,”he said.

“You need to be passionate about it. We’re here to help artists grow. We’re not here to make millions of dollars selling expensive art. We’re here to help artists achieve their goals.”

Both artists spoke at length, taking questions from the audience and mingling afterwards to further elaborate on their processes and inspirations.

Scott turns abandoned wood into different bowls and vases through wood turning. He explained how he mostly uses birch because it’s material he can easily find.

“I turn basically found wood,”he said.

“Northern Manitoba’s boreal forest doesn’t have much for hardwoods, other than a bit of Manitoba maple down along the rivers and poplar. I have turned a bit of poplar, but not much.”

Many of Scott’s pieces have ripples running throughout. He explained those were created by fungi in a process called spalting. Scott said he has created a ‘spalting farm’on his property, where he can turn chunks of hardwood into the blank canvases he uses to create his work.

“I particularly like wood that is somewhat along in the process of decay, because that’s where the real beauty of nature comes out,”he said.

“I’d say nature is a partner with me when I wood turn. I certainly make the shape, pick that piece of wood, but nature does a lot of things to it.”

The lines that show up in spalted wood are caused by two different fungi colonies bumping into each other. “What it ends up making is beautiful sort of nature, I like to call nature’s calligraphy,”Scott said.

“You could turn three different identical pieces in terms of shape, but they if they were all from different spalted logs, they would all have different designs or different patterns.”

While Scott’s pieces worked using nature as a base, Zubrack’s paintings are only based on nature. Zubrack’s paintings are inspired by cracks in rocks she observes when out kayaking.

She said as she’s developed as an artist, the paintings have become more divorced from their real life inspirations.

“I’m always working towards letting go,”she said.

“When you’re out there in your boat and you’re looking, you’re looking at composition. Then when you come back, you have all these images and you pick one, but my goal is to let go. Then once you’ve given what nature has given you, let it go and let the painting take you the rest of the way.”

Zubrack said her paintings are always up close to rock features, never including a landscape or horizon. She has been painting the rock paintings for eight years.

“It just evolved in terms of refinement,”Zubrack said.

“Just understanding what it was I wanted to paint so that you’re really zeroing in on those small spaces, and becoming more intimate with it and understanding it better. Then also understanding what was happening for me, why I am doing this.”

Both Zubrack and Scott’s work will be on display at NorVA until Aug. 28.