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Wind. When I read the diaries, letters and memoirs of the first women to come to the prairies, wind is one of the constants in their writing. In the winter it drifted snow and brought deadly blizzards; in the summer it destroyed crops and blew up dust storms; it howled and screamed and wore them down.

A nerve-wracking, peace-destroying wind has been blowing ever since I arrived…It rages and roars, whistles and shrieks…if I let myself dwell on it too long, I shall never be able to stand this country.  Evelyn Springett came to Macleod, Alberta from Quebec in 1893. (Published memoir: For my Children’s Children, 1937)

When the snow went we just had one dust storm after another until people were at their wit’s end.  May 6, 1932 letter to her Aunt Nell: Anne Pringle Hemstock came to the Hanna, Alberta area from Chatsworth, Ontario in 1918 (Letters: The Alberta Women’s Memory Project, Athabasca University)

Dust storms every day. The house is full of summer fallow.  April 11-13, 1934 diary entry: Cecily Jepson Hepworth came to the Readlyn, Saskatchewan area from Chorley, Lancashire, England in 1930 (Diaries: Saskatchewan Archives #R-E190)

Many days were grey with the thick clouds of the drifting soil that had hid the sun; dust and sand sifted into the house through the walls and the closed windows, on to the floor, the tables, the chairs, and the bed was smothered with dust. Edna Banks came to the Swift current area of Saskatchewan from Ontario in 1911. (Memoirs: Saskatchewan Archives #S-F137.1, R-E2912)

Dust blew all day and all nightDust Blew All Day and All Night by Marlena Wyman, Encaustic and photo transfer on birch panel 36″ X 12″

This is another of my paintings that will be featured in my upcoming exhibit The Sisterhood of Longing and The Memory Rooms, opening at the Jackson Power Gallery, 2nd fl. 9744 – 60 Ave in Edmonton, on April 25, 2014. Exhibit hours are noon to 4PM April 26 & 27, and May 1 to 4.

This painting was inspired by the above quotes about wind, and also by the photograph that I incorporated into my painting as a photo transfer. It is from the collection of the Provincial Archives of Alberta. The image was printed from the original glass plate negative, which had suffered mold damage and emulsion cracking. As an Archivist, this causes me dismay. As an artist, I see a haunting beauty.

PR2009.0499.068

[Alan and Mary, 1900]; photographer, Robert McKay Brebner. Provincial Archives of Alberta, #PR 2009.499.68

Posted by Marlena Wyman

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