Crystal Thorburn hoped her art would inspire others to care about the nature

Artist Crystal Thorburn’s show Botanicals: Disrupted is on show at the Shurniak Gallery, running from Nov. 3 to Feb. 26.  

“So many things have shut down,” Thorburn said. “It’s really nice to have my work up – hopefully it will brighten-up someone’s day.”

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Thorburn’s art is an expression of the colours, shapes, silhouettes, radiances and textures. Her paintings narrate tales about the plant and insect life of South Central Saskatchewan. Her acrylic, ink and encaustic wax creations seize upon visual details meant to correspond and relay the artist’s inner sensations about her natural surroundings – her insights often originate within the fields and gardens of the prairies. She enjoys taking walks outdoors while at her organic farm near Ardill, where she lives and works with her husband.

“When I’m outside, the light will catch my eye – a shadow or a shape will trigger my inspiration.”

Thorburn’s art is an elaboration on minutiae – her intention is to communicate humanity’s relationship with plants, insects and the many other overlooked aspects of nature.

“When I’m going out on my walks down the lane, all the bugs and insects are becoming few and far between. They’re such a component to our ecosystem – they may be small, but they are vital.”

The artist has exhibited paintings in local, regional and provincial group shows over 30 years. She had a solo exhibition titled Fragmentations in 2009. Thorburn was also part of a four-person exhibition titled Roots at the Godfrey Dean Art Gallery in Yorkton. Five of Thorburn’s paintings are travelling in a group show “The Flower may not look like the Root” with OSAC’s Arts on the Move Touring Exhibition over the next three years.

Thorburn furthered her education and aptitude as an artist through workshops and courses. She recently completed her Arts Entrepreneurship and Creative Endeavours Business Development course funded through the Saskatchewan Arts Board and Creative Saskatchewan. 

Aside from having her work shown in the Shurniak, Thorburn’s paintings have been displayed in the Moose Jaw Art Gallery and Museum and the Mae Wilson Cultural Centre. She became a Juried Craft Council member in 2017. Additionally, Thorburn’s work was accepted at the HomeStyles Exhibitions in Saskatoon in 2018 and 2019 and the Art Now 2018 and 2019 exhibitions, featured in the Saskatchewan Craft Council booth.  

Although Thorburn has worked from photographs, she often paints outdoors in the plein air fashion. “Plein air is very challenging and intuitive,” Thorburn said. “There’s so much out there – to be able to focus in on one spot is the goal.”

On occasion, unexpected challenges can arise when painting outdoors. “I was out at the Lake of the Rivers,” Thorburn recalled. I was doing plein air, when I heard this snorting and turned around … it was a momma deer with a baby deer, stomping her hooves and warning me. After that, I became more conscientious about my surroundings.”         

Thorburn’s artwork sometimes expresses her apprehension over the possible disappearance of insects and other disregarded facets of nature. A quote by American virologist Jonas Salk encouraged her to portray a series of insects positioned against browning, blackened and outlined leaves in encaustic wax.

In Salk’s words, "If all the insects were to disappear from the earth, within 50 years all life on earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”

Likewise, Thorburn is concerned about the alterations within nature, believing chemicals such as herbicides, along with pollution and the loss of habitat, might inflict irreversible damages.

“I want people to became aware of nature and life around us and what we have and to take care of it,” Thorburn determined in conclusion.