Disrupting Wild Echoes

Disrupting Wild Echoes by Sarah Ronald

March 17 – September 25, 2022

Artist Statement:

Animals are living extensions of the planet. The artwork in this exhibition is offered as an opportunity to consider and connect more wholly with the experience of wild animals.

This work comes from a place far beyond categorization and fascination with biological form. It comes from a moral, ethical, and spiritual place, one that takes into consideration the animal’s sensory experience; a human interpretation that is not entirely romanticized, but also not entirely conservation-based.

Much of this work was initially inspired by real encounters with coyotes, bears, and raccoons in my own yard and by later thoughts about the animal’s experiences before, during, and after their encounter with me.

How did I influence that specific animal’s experience of the world? Did I cause them to change course or behave differently?

To consider this from a broader perspective: how are humans collectively influencing animals?

Ethically, are wild animals entitled to live natural lives, free from ongoing human interference? And how does incorporating animals symbolically into our culture influence our regard, or disregard, for their real-world counterparts? And how does our cultural sugar-coating or villainization of different species influence human behaviour towards real-world wild animals? Are wildlife depictions, museums and zoos, and planned eco-interactions an unintended form of voyeurism or some sort of species defamation?

I believe that our dualistic frame of reference (subject-object: me vs you, us vs them, man vs nature) is at the centre of the climate crisis and is the root cause of the polarization that is prevalent in contemporary society.

An unintentional encounter with a wild animal is a reminder and also a gateway towards realignment.

Most of my drawings are inspired by the visual language of nighttime trail camera captures. The blurred forms, implied movements, unnatural lighting, heightened contrast, muffled darkness, and seemingly foreign landscapes speak of an existence that is evacuated, exposed, unrestful, vulnerable and highly sensory.

I believe that this kind of enveloped sensory experience is precisely what we need in order to realign with the natural world. It is an opportunity to humbly step out of one’s clinging to personal identity, and to resonate with something vastly important and primal.

Being fully present and alone in a nighttime space, you easily begin to sense the branches swaying in the breeze, the quiet flaps of bats and owls, the grunts of raccoons, the rhythmic crunching of four-legged footsteps passing nearby, and the sensation of being sensed by other species. All of these occurrences move us towards relearning how to Landspeak—an innate sensory merging with the natural world around us, a way of being fully present, in tune, as animals are all the time.

Our wisest teachers have identified that the root of fear is feeling separate and vulnerable, brought about by our dualistic subject-object frame of reference. The planet is suffering deeply from the effects of human polarization, as are all of its inhabitants.

An unintentional encounter with a wild animal or a practice of being outside in the dark is an opportunity to relearn and rejoin the natural world in an ecologically beneficial and holistic way. We can come to know that just as plants and animals are extensions of the planet, our physical sensory bodies also belong to nature.

With this humbling acknowledgment of sensory living, we may act from a place of compassionate service—to seek harmony, rather than disruption, with ancient wild echoes.

Artist Biography:

Sarah Ronald is a Canadian artist living in Port Coquitlam BC, Canada.

Ronald’s diverse upbringing in the rural Okanagan shaped her future as a conservation-minded animal artist and aspiring creative writer. After graduating from the Okanagan University College with her BFA, Ronald relocated to the lower mainland of BC, eventually settling in Port Coquitlam where she now creates out of her home studio.

Always pushing her practice to new levels, in 2020 Ronald started creating hand-drawn animations of wildlife, and in 2021 she began projecting her animations in outdoor spaces as a way to encounter her animated animals ‘in the wild’.

A drawer at heart, Ronald has recently started to include site-specific installation art in her practice.  Ronald sees installation art and projected animation becoming a significant aspect of her practice, as her aim is to present wildlife and climate concerns beyond traditional art spaces.

Please visit Sarah’s Instagram and website for more information.

Exhibition Contributors:

Yukiko Stranger-Galey

Scientific Curator:
Chris Stinson

Derek Tan & Evan Craig

Lesha Koop