Making local art to support global issues is what Bernice Weihs-Anderson’s new show is all about.
At the Sidewalk Gallery in Ashcroft until the end of July, the Clinton artist hopes to raise awareness and hope for the plight of endangered species around the world. On 18 pieces of wood and two pieces of fabric, Weihs-Anderson has brought to life a wide range of endangered and threatened species including wolves, peregrine falcons, and more.
“I did a little blurb (with the show) about endangered species and how we actually can remedy it,” Weihs-Anderson said. “That was sort of the message (I got) from COVID. We can look at it as a negative thing or a chance to reassess how we impact the environment.”
Weihs-Anderson points to past examples where humans changed their behaviour and species that were threatened bounced back. Here in B.C. she said numbers of cougars and mountain lions have recovered after people stopped arbitrarily poisoning and trapping them in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“I wanted to emphasize there are so many ways human beings, without thining, impact the world but we can do so positively rather than negatively.”
To do her part, Weihs-Anderson intends to donate 50 percent of the profits from the show to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The work they do to protect wild animals is one close to her heart.
A fibre artist by trade, Weihs-Anderson got her start in fabric by making costumes for the Clinton Annual Ball. As time went on she began making fibre art from cloth, leather and fur and only recently started experimenting with wood.
“It’s all about how the different types of wood react to different temperatures and how you have to handle it,” Weihs-Anderson said. “It’s all reclaimed wood, using what was already there that would have been burnt or thrown in the trash. That’s kind of a really fun part for me.”
Weihs-Anderson said burning wood is akin to sketching with a pencil as “all you got is the opportunity to shade so you can go lighter, darker and thicker lines.”
The wood she used included leftover scrap spruce from West Fraser’s donations to the Clinton Assisted Living Facility – beetle-killed pine, fire-killed juniper, willow from a danger tree, and some spruce taken from a 120-year-old tree planted by the Clinton Museum. For pieces made from wood from the museum and living facility, 50 percent of proceeds from the sale will be donated to those organizations.
Weihs-Anderson said she’s especially happy her show is in Ashcroft this month because this July marks the 10th anniversary of the Sidewalk Gallery’s opening. She said it’s a great venue and a real gift from its curator, Angela Bandelli, to the community.
“I think it’s such a treasure to have in the community. What it does is reinforce peoples’ abilities and talents that are local. We often think art galleries are something we have only in big cities where the creative people go. Yet art lives in our communities and there are so many local people who have outstanding talent and presenting that inspires our young people.”