Art exhibition at WAC explores Farm and Beyond

Artist Susan Crawford-Young's exhibit Farm and Beyond is at Winkler Arts & Culture through the month of May. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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Winkler Arts and Culture’s latest offering takes you to the farm for a unique look at the equipment.

Farm and Beyond features 65 pieces from Susan Crawford-Young. The exhibition has gel prints enhanced with watercolour, photography, acrylics, watercolours and an oil painting.

The print closest to the door of the gallery, “Chaff on the Sieve”, was the photo that kicked Crawford-Young’s farm machinery series off.

“It was around 2009 I took that picture and everybody loved it,” she said. “I thought I would try to kind of duplicate that and I’ve succeeded in a couple of places to make that happen. It’s how to make an abstract sort of painting out of a piece of farm equipment.”

“You kind of have to go dig around in the piece of equipment to find something that’s unusual or striking,” she added.

The name Farm and Beyond reflects that Crawford-Young’s pieces display both scenes from the farm but also from the wild spaces around farms.

Crawford-Young has lived in the region for over 30 years. Originally from a small town and then moving to Winnipeg, she draws inspiration from the scenes around her.

“Its beautiful,” she said. “The scenery out here is fantastic, and it just begs to be photographed or painted.”

Crawford-Young started painting at the Miami Art Club and she said it took off from there. “When I get into my art I don’t want to quit,” she said. “It developed from being a farmer’s wife and being stuck on the farm all winter and being allowed out to go to the Miami Art Club to go painting.”

Crawford-Young and her sister-in-law helped form an art group in Manitou, and she went on to submit pieces to art shows and worked with a mentor from the area to improve her art skills.

Crawford-Young said her interest in farm equipment comes partially from having worked in her dad’s machine shop when she was younger, and partially from being an engineer. “I know the effort it takes to make these pieces,” she said. “I know how there’s effort in designing them as well. It kind of all fits. I have both the mechanical part of farming and then the farm scenes where the crops are growing and the weather’s coming in and that kind of thing.”

Crawford-Young said the sciences and the art mix for her all the time. She is currently working on a PhD and will be taking microscopic pictures of salamander eggs to study their embryology.

“It’s just an expansion of my photography,” she said. “My science and my art intersect all over the place.”

Crawford-Young said she creates art both for herself and to show people. “I like to encourage other people to do art,” she said. “Showing it like this, I also hope to inspire interest in other people so that they’ll do artwork as well.”

Crawford-Young also has five collaborative pieces with artist Natalie Rostad-Desjarlais. Rostad-Desjarlais paints on rocks, but with diabetic neuropathy, handling rocks can hurt her hands.

“I thought canvas and paper are light and easy to handle, so I went and took some close-up pictures of rocks for her,” Crawford-Young said. “I took the photograph up close and personal of these beautiful rocks, and then she’s seen images in them. If that was a rock she would have actually painted those on the rock.”

Crawford-Young and Rostad-Desjarlais have been working together on their collaborative pieces for around five years.

Crawford-Young encouraged anyone thinking about creating their own art to take lessons at local galleries, especially in other medias that are out of their comfort zone.

“Most of the artwork just takes practice,” she added. “It will help your artwork progress. Just take some workshops and go paint. Just get into it.”

Farm and Beyond runs at WAC through the month of May.