Art meets nature and history

Historic Miles Canyon holds a special place in the story of Whitehorse. Today’s picturesque hiking trails, pedestrian suspension bridge and impressive rock cliffs are a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. And the historical struggles of gold-seekers navigating the dangerous channel, during the Klondike Gold Rush, add to the unique story of the area. Each summer, the Yukon Conservation Society invites Yukon artists to participate in a two-day workshop to create pieces inspired by this special place, and those creations will go on display this month at Northern Front Studio.

Yukon artists Nicole Bauberger (right) and Josée Carbonneau (above) were two of the participants at this year’s event that took place on July 13 and 14. Both artists found a different aspect of the canyon that inspired their work. Bauberger found inspiration in the trail network around Miles Canyon, which spreads out up and down the river to spots like Canyon City and Schwatka Lake, while Carbonneau looked back at the struggles of the pioneers making the journey to the goldfields long ago.

“I had an idea that I wanted to experiment with,” said Bauberger, who wanted to explore the trail network. “Jessica Vallenga and I had done a webbed space, an indoor installation of our doily webs, and I was spinning off and using long crocheted line.

“I got distracted from the original line idea. The bridge is such a big part.”

Bauberger’s resulting artwork replicates the walls of the canyon, the candle ice that might form on the frozen water and then water itself underneath.

Carbonneau is known for her unique artwork using fish skins. (Ed. note: WUY profiled Carbonneau’s work in the Oct. 18, 2017 edition.) She has been doing fish skin creations for about 10 years. For Carbonneau, it was a special chance to be inspired in an area that she enjoys.

“I had never done that kind of demonstration,” she said. “Two days in nature; it was so beautiful.”

But it was the historic stories of rafters braving the canyon during the gold rush that inspired her work this summer.

“I have been biking those trails and going there walking, and [have] always been impressed by the people who were travelling on the river,” Carbonneau explained that is why she created the raft.

Bauberger was already thinking of ideas to explore next year, as Created at the Canyon provides a special opportunity for artists to branch out and try new things.

“You can’t actually paint and talk, the two processes would be fighting with each other,” Bauberger said. “I wanted to put up an idea and speak with, and interact with, people.”

She says that the special opportunity to be paid for the workshop allows artists to go beyond their normal work, like making a painting to sell. It is in some ways support research and development time to try new things.

The full range of works will be on display at Northern Front Studio from August 2 to 30 and a launch event is scheduled for August 8 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information on Created and the Canyon and on the exhibition, contact the Yukon Conservation Society at [email protected]

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