Big Earth Series: Val Wiebe

June 2020

This exhibit explores the relationship between the landscape and our own fragility – the universal human experience. 

We live in a big world. In Saskatchewan, that sense of expansiveness is even more pronounced, with our wide swathes of sky and vast horizons in all directions. Standing in the rural landscape in which I live, I find myself feeling both a sense of awe and an awareness of my own insignificance. The pieces in this Big Earth series explore the relationship between the landscape and our own fragility – the universal human experience. We all feel joy, sorrow, a longing to be included, and that our lives matter. Sometimes it is our own inner landscape that we wrestle with the most, our regrets from the past, our fear of today, our anxieties about tomorrow.

The paintings in this series are small intimate works. They require the viewer to come close to investigate the details, to observe the tiny figures, much like what is required from the person who truly wants to explore our beautiful province. You must get out of your car, and sometimes you even have to get down on your hands and knees to really see what is there. This intimacy is juxtaposed by the viewers perspective; looking down and into these landscapes, like a bird flying up high, or an airplane, or even God, with the land spread out below. These works might generate questions like: Is the viewer the omnipresent observer or are they the tiny dark figure? Is the viewer looking down on the actual landscape or some representation of their own inner world? Are we alone in this landscape, or is there some unseen presence? How does it feel to be so small in a big world? These paintings touch on the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and how we fit into the world around us.