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Our current exhibition All for Water aims to provoke critical thinking around the global availability and health of freshwater, including the social, economic and political change required to protect this resource for generations to come. We’ve invited three artists: Bill Horne, Lori Goldberg and Betty Kovavic to share resources that they find inspiring as they create artwork addressing the future of freshwater. We invite you to click through to learn more!
Photo of Lori Goldberg with text that reads: All For Water - Top 5, Lori Goldberg,

1. My Own Painting Practice
I came to realize that dissolved acrylic paint is a nano-plastic that ends up in the ocean, so I researched ways to clean up my practice. Artists can take responsibility by removing microplastics from acrylic wash water. GOLDEN Paints explains how to separate paint from water. I now make this part of my practice and educate all my students on how to do this.

2. Tom Lehr, Musician and Songwriter
After International Earth Day was created in 1970, millions of Americans demonstrated across the USA, which lead to the formation of the Clean Air and Water Act. Many artists responded to this though their work. I was a teenager at the time and Tom Lehr’s song “Pollution” had a strong impact on me. The lyrics inspired my first environmentally focused artwork, which became a three minute super-8 film.

3. Research for Artist Residency
During the developmental stages of an artist residency program, I visited waste management facilities, liaising with program directors and operation managers who allowed me to walk through the sites. This experience had a lasting impact that pushed my art practise in new directions. Check out “Trash Talk” from Lori Goldberg on Vimeo.

4. Articles
Some online articles have imprinted my psyche forever. For example, the sobering 2019 joint study by Dalberg and the University of Newcastle in Australia documents the extent of human consumption of plastic.

5. Monet’s Lily Pond paintings
My artwork in All for Water, Beneath the Water Lies the Truth, was inspired by Monet’s Waterlily paintings. Monet said that his paintings were meant to create “the refuge of a peaceful meditation.” What better way to send a message, than by disrupting a peaceful image of water lilies with plastic garbage?

All for Water top 5 list with Betty Kovacic

1. Medium
Water = Life, is the title of my work featured in All for Water. To make this work I used a sheet of industrial copper for a substrate. At one time, this copper covered the surface of our greenhouse worktable. This copper sheet has endured and exhibited the effects of twenty years of use; fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and other pollutants have left their marks on its surface. For me, this changed copper sheet is a metaphor for the effects humanity has on the Earth’s lakes and rivers.

Water=Life artwork by Betty Kovacic
Betty Kovacic, Water = Life, 2020. Acrylic paint, Plexiglas, acrylic collage on repurposed copper sheet.

2. Lived Experience
I have lived off-grid in a small remote community situated in the Rocky Mountains and spent much of my life in the wilderness of BC. Many years ago, I began to witness a frightening decline in many wild animals I once saw in great numbers. These observations inform much of my current work.

3. Lists of Vulnerable, Threatened or Endangered Animals
Water = Life is a mixed media work that features different kinds of imagery, including line drawings of endangered species. As part of my research, I consulted the Animal Welfare Institute website to learn about endangered species and to help me to determine which animals to depict in my work.

4. Adagio in Stings by Samuel Barber 
When I develop work, I frequently listen to Adagio in Stings by Samuel Barber. I feel this gentle music is an expression of my feelings. This reiteration of the piece by Hauser is poignant and beautiful.

5. Matthew Rangel 
The printmaker Matthew Rangel frequently addresses environmental issues through his work. His ideas and aesthetic, particularly the linear aspects of his work and his use of maps, really resonates with me.

1. Breaching the PeaceThe Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand against Big Hydro by Sarah Cox; UBC Press, On Point Press
A gripping, well-written, and disturbing account of the Site C boondoggle on the Peace River in Treaty 8 Territory.
2. Waterwalker, a film by Bill Mason; music by Bruce Cockburn; NFB, 1984

Made from scraps from the editing room floor, this film splices together one long river out of several distinct river segments. Mason paints scenes while in the bush, and his spiritually-based environmental message was years ahead of its time.

3. Go By Brooks, a poem by Leonard Cohen.
One of my all time favourite poems; short and spare, but deep.
4. Lake Huron No. 3, painting by Jack Chambers.
 I had the good fortune of seeing this painting in person when I was a young adult and spent a long time looking at it. In the end, I couldn’t decide which I loved more: the painted surface or the scene itself, or both. 
5. trapline, an 18 minute silent 16 mm film by Ellie Epp, 1976.
Several sequences of moving light and ripples in a pool create a meditative effect that a swimmer splashes through towards the end. Stunning beauty revealed in the ordinary.
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