June 1 - June 30
Sarah Zimmerman (affectionately known as saz) has been painting her entire life. Her playful approach to painting the environment around her is a tantalizing interpretation of her surroundings. Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, the urban arena has long played an important role in her life. Since moving to Terrace, BC in 2000, the incredible bounty of the northwest has become a constant source of inspiration for Sarah. From rooster portraits to vibrant snails, her pieces are fun, vibrant acrylic messes that are also a nod to her surroundings. Her work is a whimsical exploration of her environment and sense of place. An old-school word nerd and writer, Sarah sneaks words and phrases into many of her paintings, giving them another layer of meaning - and making opening nights a lot like a game of Where's Waldo as gallery-goers try to find the words and phrases hidden in her pieces. Sarah is currently working on a two-year labour of love called the fish project - a multimedia nod to the fish that enter the Skeena watershed every year.
Working on the fish project has been an exercise in discovering a much deeper connection to the fish that enter the river systems around my home in Terrace, BC. Growing up in the prairies, salmon came in a can. It always had bones in it and usually was served as salmon salad between slices of white bread. It was not a huge part of our urban diet nor did I have any connection to where it came from or the ecosystem around it. Having now lived half my life in the Skeena region, my relationship to salmon is much more profound and
reflective of the environment around me. The process of completing the fish project has been an intimate examination of the physiology of both salmon and oolichan, deepening that connection through the process of working with the fish as a part of this project. The simple process of cleaning and examining the fish, preparing them for printing and washing them afterwards has led to a more intimate connection to the various species of salmon, their physiological differences and how their bodies morph and change as they return to their birthplace to spawn. Creating each piece in this project is a multi-faceted process that involves sourcing or catching the fish, cleaning it, preparing it for printing, painting it and then pressing the prints onto thin paper. Then the prints are transferred to the wood panels using a gel transfer technique. Each
painting on its own is a reflection of a small, but critical piece of the ecosystem. Each painting takes weeks to complete and is as unique as the fish they represent. The fish printing creates a record of the fish in a way that captures all of its unique attributes - scales, scars, fins and even its eyes. Salmon and oolichan are so important to the northwest region of BC from a cultural, food and ceremonial perspective, the fish project seeks capture their uniqueness in totally different way. Oolichan is an Indigenous fishery, so I was blessed to join friends as they harvested the slippery silver fish from the Skeena on a beautiful, crisp, spring morning. With seagulls whirling overhead, families both young and old pulled the fish from the river using dip nets. I am so grateful to have been gifted some oolichan to print for this project. What an honour.