Friday, March 18, 2011


In response to an artist's call, I started a small painting. The call was for an exhibition, that this image was selected to be part of, by the North Vancouver Community Arts Council called "Man's Best Friend":

"It has become evident that the pursuit of peaceful coexistence is paramount with one another and with the creatures that live amongst us. The time is long overdue to achieve a harmonious balance in the interest of saving our planet. Embracing the ideals of cohabitation, rather than the need to dominate and control, will be examined in this exhibition... Through contrasting, positive imagery, this exhibition intends to present humankind living in harmony with creatures that might otherwise be thought of as a threat, a product, an impingement, or seemingly irrelevant to existence."

It may sound cliche, but what first came to mind were endangered leatherback sea turtles. I started the painting with an image in mind in early February, and finished the piece a few weeks later on time for the exhibition deadline. Here is an excerpt from my artist statement:

“Baula” is a simple image that attempts to remind us of a big issue. Tortuga baula is the Spanish term for the leatherback sea turtle, a creature that has survived since the days of the dinosaurs, but is likely to disappear from this earth by the year 2015 due to our actions. Their numbers have dwindled severely because of such things as fishery by-catch and the very popular oceanfront resorts. My first exposure to this issue was when I had the opportunity to co-facilitate a service-learning program for a group of students from UBC in a coastal community of Costa Rica. Here we learned about the importance of this creature to the local community, the greater marine ecosystems, and the whole world through dialogues with community members and building a hatchery to protect turtle eggs. The image here is of the palm of my own hand, holding within it a leatherback turtle hatchling. While I have never held a hatchling in my hand, the image here is one I hold in my mind as a reminder that we are not the only species of importance on this planet. We need to acknowledge that our actions impact so much more than just ourselves. The hatchling is also a depiction of the leatherback in one of its most vulnerable states. A creature that can grow to the size of a car starts out its life smaller than an adult human’s hand. It is due to our hands that they are endangered; it is within our hands the responsibility to protect them from extinction.

Here I used palette knives and fingerprints to layer on colours. Colours selected are ones that I associate with our planet and the fingerprints are meant to suggest that each one of us leaves a mark on this planet. It is my responsibility to ensure the mark I make and leave behind is a positive one.

This piece will be part of an exhibition titled "Man's Best Friend" at the CityScape Community Arts Space from April 29-May 28th, 2011 - 335 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, BC.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children”
- Native American Proverb

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tenam Puente

I recently came back from a memorable and eventful trip to Chiapas, Mexico. The main focus of the trip was a UBC Reading Week International Service Learning experience; I was the facilitator that travelled along with 5 very thoughtful and intelligent students. It was a thought-provoking trip, working with local organization Tsomanotik (in Tzimol) and learning about sustainability and solidarity.

The trip was a mix of really great enriching experiences with some challenges sprinkled in. Throughout the week we had several good conversations to tie together all that happened and all that we learned as a team. It was overall, very positive for us, but boy were we tired after!

One day we spent the majority of our time on a field trip. It began with a trip to a nearby Mayan ruin site called Tenam Puente. We spent time wandering around and enjoying the sites, the views, and learning about the history.

Then after we had a chunk of time reserved for reflection. Given the events of the week, I felt this time was best spent in individual reflection - a chance to really take it all in and decompress a bit.

The students spent their time atop one of the buildings journaling while I found a quiet spot down at ground level to spend some time with my sketchbook and pens. With the hot sun beating down on me, this is what I started working on. I finished the drawing a few days later. Enjoy!: