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Inside-Out, a Subconscious Terrain and an art night for the Estevan Art Gallery

Estevan Art Gallery and Museum has a number of new exhibits underway.
Tracy Peters EAGM
Tracy Peters with her artwork that is on display at the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum.

ESTEVAN - Tracy Peters had a busy week in Estevan.

First of all, she was at the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum for the installation of her exhibit Subconscious Terrain. She then participated in an artists’ talk in front of a large crowd Thursday night at the EAGM.

And she was working on her off-site installation, Bog Sensing, which is located at the Woodlawn Regional Park. It’s the latest chapter in the EAGM’s Inside-Out partnership that brings outdoor art to Woodlawn.

Subconscious Terrain is what she referred to as a “metaphorical bog”. The general public might not have a lot of information about bogs, but she was eager to study the subject. The exhibit features about 20 fabric panels that are blueish in colour and have images of sphagnum moss, which is what forms a bog.

“Visitors can come and walk through them. They move with air movement,” said Peters.

Bogs are specialized ecosystems that she believes are among the most efficient ecosystems on the planet.

“In terms of climate change, they are definitely an important habitat to protect,” said Peters. “I’m just really excited about the fact that they absorb so much water. I’ve actually collected plants sustainably from a bog, and they soak up 25 times the amount of water of their dry weight.”

Bogs help prevent flooding, drought and wildfires, and they sequester carbon.

Six years ago, Peters knew nothing about bogs, but she has handled them and describes them as “superheroes of the planet”. Now she wants to share some of the information she knows.

Peters noted that the sphagnum creates a blanket. The top of the plant keeps growing and they float in water.

“They float in water, they support each other in the community, and that’s how the build the bog, is they support each other. The bottoms of the plants, there’s no roots, they just float in water, and they are fed from clouds only.”

It means they’re suspended in this space between life and death. As long as there’s water, bogs don’t dry out.

The fabric used for the exhibit is fragile, just like the bogs themselves.

As for the Bog Sensing exhibit through Inside-Out, it was an exciting opportunity because she works outdoors a lot. She has four exhibits at the park that are contained within museum casings.

“I’ve lined them with photographs – digital photographs and prints – that are double-sided. The outside is dead moss and the inside is living moss. It’s sphagnum moss from a bog. I have solar lights installed in the ceiling and a mirror on the floor.”

She expects Bog Sensing will remain at Woodlawn until mid-August, when she will return to Estevan to take it down.

The first big outdoor installation she did in 2012 featured nine-foot photographs of the forest floor, which she cut into big strips and wove them into the walls of an abandoned grain shed in her home on the outskirts of Winnipeg.

She has also worked on the shoreline with photographic prints and left them on rocks so they wouldn’t blow away.

“That’s how I make work is I respond to the weather, the light and the ecosystem I work in,” she said.

EAGM curator-director Amber Andersen told the audience that there is a risk associated with having artwork outdoors, but there is also a big reward.

Peters led tours of Bog Sensing after she finished her artist talk.

Her artistic talk was part of the EAGM’s first-ever arts night. The evening also featured a reception for Ruth Langwieser and her exhibit Mania Plastica. Langweiser, who lives in Estevan, has been the artist in residence for the EAGM for the past year. Her tenure came to an end last month.

It also marked the official reopening of the North West Mounted Police Museum, which has been renovated. People were able to take a tour of the building.

And it was the kickoff for the Museums Association of Saskatchewan’s annual convention, which was held in Estevan on Friday and Saturday. Many of the delegates for the convention were at the arts night.

The arts night marked the first time the EAGM has had an in-person reception of any kind for its exhibits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A future edition of the Mercury will have more on Langweiser and the museum restoration efforts.

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