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I have been thinking of starting an art blog for some time now, but the catalyst was my acceptance into the Wallace Stegner House artist’s residency in Eastend, Saskatchewan. It is a great honour to have been chosen and I am looking forward to my creative time there in April.

I thought it might be a useful exercise for me (and hopefully an interesting one for others) to create an on-line journal of my experiences there to focus my awareness and intent, and to post images of the photographs, drawings and paintings that I create at my artist’s residency.

I grew up on a farm and have had a desire recently to return to and pay respect to my agricultural roots through my artwork. In particular, the rural setting of Eastend, the history of the Stegner House, and the direct access to the prairie landscape create a perfect combination for me.  The opportunity for focus and quiet reflection that an artist’s residency can offer is always of great creative value.

I will begin with some background on my family prairie roots:

After emigrating from the U.S., and living and working in various businesses in several Canadian prairie communities, my paternal grandparents, Bert and Lily Wyman, settled in the southern Alberta prairies in 1916 to take up farming at Baintree, Alberta. They also ran a store, post office and farm machinery business, and Bert was the elevator agent there too.

In my grandfather Bert’s letter of June 5, 1917 to his brother in the US he says:

Built a store and dwelling combined, stocked the same, made a little money during the fall and damn near froze during the winter.

Bert O Wyman                My paternal grandfather, Bert, was a Canadian Pacific Railway land agent before he settled on the family farm.

Lily                                                      My paternal Grandmother Lily, raised six children along with farm and business work. My father was the youngest of the brood.

The prairies are my visual history. In looking back at my childhood photos on the family farm near Rockyford in Southern Alberta, that expansive prairie line of the horizon served as a recurring theme and abiding backdrop to my life: The Prairie Line.

Dad, Mitch, Mom & Marlena             Dad (Barry), my Mom (Doreen), my twin brother Mitch, and me with the prairie horizon as backdrop.

Mom & Dad                                                    Mom & Dad and an unobstructed view of the outhouse. I remember it well, with an emphasis on winter memories. 

Mitch, Marlena & Janice               My twin brother Mitch, me with the first of a number of cats in my life, and my older sister Janice. Another fence post – another prairie view.

Marlena 001Me in my landlocked swimsuit.

I recall us kids roaming the prairies with no fear of getting lost – we could always see the house. And we could always hear our father’s distinctive whistle calling us home.

That vastness of landscape, especially experienced as a child, had a way of imprinting itself on me and it helped to determine who I am, although I did not know that at the time. When I graduated from high school, I couldn’t wait to get away from the farm and start my adventures at university in the Big City. Yet, years later, the prairie landscape and my heritage have called to me again and drawn me back in.

To view more photos from my family archive, watch for my upcoming post The Prairie Lineage.

 

Posted by Marlena Wyman

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