“Pieces of the Jagged Rocks” by artist Dee Bailey opens Sept. 6 with a reception from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Yukon Artists at Work Gallery in Whitehorse.

Dee Bailey working during her residency at Tombstone Territorial Park

Bailey’s engaging sculptural paintings look to celebrate wildlife and the landscape. She works with oil-based modelling clay to create paintings with depth. Coloured pieces of clay are carefully shaped and assembled into flower petals, an eagle’s body and even a wolf’s fur. When you view them, you can’t help but pause and wonder at the creative spirit.

“I hope to help people rekindle their own awe for our natural surroundings,” Bailey said. “Looking at art may help people to consider pleasant memories of time spent in nature.”

This show features many works inspired by Bailey’s recent experience as the Tombstone Territorial Park Artist-in-Residence. In July, she spent two weeks living in the park and working in a wall tent studio, which allowed her to explore the flora and fauna of the area. Bailey also gave workshops and demonstrations at the interpretive center. Hiking with the talented staff, and gathering information and reference material all contributed to her inspiration for this exhibit. 

“The most striking part of my July Tombstone art residency was the warm sense of community felt there. And in such a contrast to the location, being at the edge of nowhere, living a very simple and rustic life,” Bailey wrote in an email. “The inspiration was overwhelming at times. I completed a record number of paintings there and continued to produce well after. The staff and visitors I connected with were definitely the highlight. The beauty of that park may bring out the best in people.”

Dee Bailey’s Canis lupus portrait, Oil-based modelling clay on board, 12×12″, July 2019

Bailey’s unique process is the result of years of dedicated experimentation and persistence. Working with oil-based clay, she mixes colours, creates individual shapes and applies the clay as paint with her fingers. She picks up small pebbles and bits of found plastic on her walks to add to her assemblages. The resulting pieces are a unique fusion of painting and sculpture.

Bailey strives to inspire her viewers to reconnect with nature through her art. Her paintings compel viewers to to have a closer look and to reminisce about their own wilderness experiences. She hopes to evoke feelings and memories of time spent outdoors.

The exhibit opens Friday, Sept. 6 until Sept. 29.