Miles Canyon serves as inspiration for Yukon Arts Centre exhibit

Created in the Canyon on display until Sept. 30

The newest exhibit at the Yukon Arts Centre’s Community Gallery featuring the work of six artists is a mix of media ranging from a video to pottery to water colours and more all inspired by Miles Canyon.

The launch for the Created in the Canyon exhibit was held Aug. 19 and will remain on display at the arts centre until Sept. 30.

Six Yukon artists — Leighann Chalykoff, Julia Cottle, Selina Heyligers-Hare, Jackie Irvine, Martha Ritchie and Sean Smith — were on-hand at Miles Canyon over two days in July for the Yukon Conservation Society’s annual Created in the Canyon event to produce work inspired by the landscape.

“It’s a good way to see the environment through a different lens,” YCS trail guides coordinator Galena Roots said in an Aug. 19 interview.

She said it’s her hope those who take in the exhibit at the arts centre will be inspired to go out and experience the beauty in the environment around them. The artwork may also prompt viewers to take up their own new artistic pursuits, she said.

Jackie Irvine’s paintings in the Created at the Canyon art exhibit in the Yukon Energy Community Gallery at the Yukon Arts Centre. The opening launch was held on Wednesday evening. The exhibit runs Aug. 20 to Sept. 30. (Mike Thomas/Yukon Arts Centre)

Overall, the 2020 edition of the Created in the Canyon event went well as approximately 300 visitors made their way around Miles Canyon taking in the works-in-progress of the six artists involved, Roots said.

While there were fewer visitors to Created in the Canyon than in past years, given the impacts of COVID-19, that did not come as a surprise and officials were pleased to have a steady flow of local residents over the six hours Created in the Canyon happened both days.

There, artists worked to create pieces inspired by the landscape.

“They’re all gorgeous,” Roots said of the pieces, noting she did not realize just how diverse the work would be.

Each artist brings a different perspective to the same experience and has created pieces that reflect their experience, she said.

While Chalykoff created pottery pieces, Cottle created artwork using wool and cotton with Heyligers-Hare using the two-day period to focus on making a music video. Irvine spent the time painting; Ritchie focused on printmaking and Sean Smith performed drumming as well as creating a spoken word piece.

It was neat to be there with other artists doing vastly different things, Chalykoff said in an Aug. 19 interview as she recalled listening to Smith’s drumming as well as Heyligers-Hare music while working on her own pottery over the two days.

“It was a really great learning experience,” she said, adding she wanted to push herself more in her work and this was a good way to do that while also having an opportunity to work in an amazing landscape with her location for the two days near the stairs overlooking the canyon. As an added bonus, the two days proved to be among the few this summer with good weather.

A woman views Martha Ritchie’s work in the Created at the Canyon art exhibit in the Yukon Energy Community Gallery at the Yukon Arts Centre. The opening launch was held on Wednesday evening. The exhibit runs Aug. 20 to Sept. 30. (Mike Thomas/Yukon Arts Centre)

Irvine said the event was an opportunity to continue the “teeny tiny watercolours” (TnT) series she had started working on earlier in the spring much of the territory was shut down. The light, colour and nature of the Yukon never disappoints and she was able to continue with that theme at Miles Canyon, incorporating the canyon walls and colour of the water.

She is hoping Yukoners will send out the small paintings to those they can’t be with right now because of the pandemic.

“It was a great to be in the Canyon for two days painting my TnT’s…. It was really important for me to be able to interact with all the people enjoying nature in the canyon — I spent a lot of time alone away from the public since the pandemic started the canyon was a perfect place in a beautiful setting to interact safely with the public,” she stated in a Aug. 19 email.

Roots praised the staff at the Yukon Arts Centre for putting the work of the artists together in an exhibit displaying the wide range of work that can be produced with Miles Canyon as an inspiration.

“They’re experts,” she said of the arts centre staff.

Those taking in the exhibit will take in the visual art pieces on the wall with Chalykoff’s ceramics set in the middle part of the gallery while the performance pieces are also set to be displayed on screen.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

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