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With the Land: Artists Outside at FortWhyte Alive

Posted on December 6, 2021

In nature, we connect — with the land, with our history, and with each other. With the Land: Artists Outside, one of the first university-level courses designed to be held almost entirely outdoors, promotes exactly that.

Students spent a semester experiencing the changing seasons, interacting with the plants and animals at FortWhyte Alive, and exploring land-based education to inspire their final works of art. FortWhyte Alive has the honour of being home to these exhibits and we are excited to share them with you.

Download this map to find the exhibits throughout FortWhyte Alive and learn more about each below.


Artist: Carolina Araneda
Title: reclaim
Location: on the pile cement in the trees, beside the meadow
Materials: Clay
Project Description: Made from clay taken from the edge of a lake, shaped, and placed on the cement dollops left behind by the past users of this land, used as a visual metaphor of FortWhyte Alive’s mission rooted in nature and promoting awareness of the natural world.

You are Being Watched

Artist: Pani Bolbolabadi
Title: You are Being Watched
Location: on trail just before the boardwalk near Lake 2
Materials: Post-used monitors
Project Description: I have collected monitors from Mother Earth Recycling to use them as an audience. Monitors are watching all the time when they are working so I tried to give them a new identity after their service. Also, these post-used objects are a perfect example of the electrical world and modern consumerism.


The brown sod house is surrounded by snow.

Artist: Alice Hamilton
Title: Spinneret
Location: on sod house
Materials: Bison wool, cattail fluff, hair of the artist, wood, locally sourced clay fired by Carolina Araneda
Project Description: For Spinneret, I put myself into the shoes of a woman who lives in the sod house as I made yarn from materials that I gathered, prepared, and spun on site at FortWhyte. A spinneret is the name of the silk-spinning organ on a spider, a function that I embodied as I partook in the ancient, mythical and transformational art of drop-spindle spinning. Using the yarn that I made on site, I then wove a web onto the outside of the sod house, leaving it to the mercy of the elements.


Artist: Omar
Title: Alive, Yes
Location: in meadow
Materials: clay and paper
Project DescriptionInside the heart is fire. Ignorance may suppress that light. After a moment of anger, a heart will ignite. 

Trail Quilt

Artist: Madeleine Carlson
Title: Trail Quilt
Location: laid across ice on the wetland boardwalk trail, near Lake 2
Materials: water soluble embroidery backing, natural materials
Project Description: This quilt was assembled using water soluble embroidery fabric and natural materials found on the trails of FortWhyte. The quilt is stuffed with cattails and decorated with patterns celebrating the winter landscape and the diversity of flora found all year long at FortWhyte. Eventually, the moisture and changes in weather will break down the materials and the quilt will melt into the ice it’s laid out on. 


Artist: Owen Dunnigan
Title: Untitled
Location: stream by sod house
Materials: snow
Project DescriptionMy project is exploring the material of water and the physicality of it in different states. Throughout most of the year water is something you can move and glide through and then it turns into a solid object that can be manipulated and arranged to grow beyond its normal domain. In a way, there is no end to these pillars as they start in the flowing, ever-changing water below them and grow up out of the ground.

While my practice is ever changing and morphing it usually revolves around expressing or physicalizing something; as someone on the autism spectrum, I have trouble taking inner feelings and expressing/expelling them. This piece, and beginning of a series, is about extending the bodies of water present underneath the pillars and extending them in a static way that contrasts the organic elements of the earth around them. As an avid swimmer, I spend half of the year in bodies of water and the other half walking on top of them. There is this balance of solid and liquid that goes unseen and unthought of that has always tickled the back of my mind.

Mother Earth Sings

Artist: Shanelle St. Hilaire
Title: Mother Earth Sings
Location: greenhouse in Interpretive Centre
Materials: plant, electrodes, electronic software
Project Description: This project is a result of research conducted over the past three months on a genre of music called “Plant Music”. To create plant music made by plants, I created my own recording device that takes the energy emitted from plants, turns it into a binary code, and then inputs into a digital sound software that turns it into music. Making plant music is my way of connecting with the land, as well as bringing attention to Mother Earth to show that she does in fact have a voice, and it should be heard. 


Cottonwood Homes

Artist: Abby Rodrigue
Title: Cottonwood Homes
Location: N/A
Materials: cottonwood bark, plants, flowers
Project Description: This project was created through the lens of my childhood imagination and the connections that I have with FortWhyte and the outdoors. I hand carved “houses” out of cottonwood bark that resemble homes to fairies or forest creatures. Each carving is connected to one another by a path that is created out of a variety of plant life including dried flowers, rose hips and leaves.