Paper Wildlife Conservancy uses prints to connect to wildlife

HUMBOLDT — The latest artist featured at the Humboldt and District Gallery combines her love of art with a love of ecology.

With her show, Paper Wildlife Conservancy, Cate Francis wants people to think about the role wildlife plays in defining a sense of place and home.

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“I wanted to draw an appreciation for the ecology of Saskatchewan, because I feel like you can start local and move outward from that,” she said.

Francis’ day job is working as a horticulturalist with the Saskatoon’s parks department, where she gets the chance to look up close at how urban development affects wildlife.

Her work evokes her feelings about ecology. “Emergency Water Supply” depicts a bunch of frogs crowded on a water bottle floating on pool hit by an oil spill, while “I forget they are carnivores” shows a pelican eating a human with its beak – a thought that has scared her on occasion.

Francis said she’s always been interested in art and it made sure for her to take a bachelor of fine arts when she went to the University of Saskatchewan. She did her masters of fine arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

While at university, she took to printmaking, drawn to the graphic nature of it.

“I'm naturally inclined to doing things that are graphic and offer repeatability, as well as the fact that you can make multiples and get it out to more people. I’m really interested in the history of print, so I kind of gravitated towards it because of that.”

She focused on screen printing because it was the only form of printmaking she could do at home.

Francis said printmaking is pretty much the same process as printing items like T-shirts and mugs. She makes a stencil, puts it on a fine synthetic mesh and squeeze ink through it. Each stencil has one colour. One of the challenges is to produce a piece of art that is colourful but uses as few colours as possible, thanks to the mixing of colours into different ones.

The artist said she’s happy to be displaying her work at the Humboldt Gallery.

“I've been to the gallery a few times. Every time I’m through I come in and see what's up.”

Paper Wildlife Conservancy started showing at the gallery on Jan. 9 and will be there until Feb. 22.

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