Maya Rosenberg is very familiar with Kluane National Park.
“My friends actually thought that I lived there for a while because I was there for so many weekends,” she said, laughing.
She’s taught landscape painting classes at Kathleen Lake and likes to spend as much time as she can hiking through the area taking pictures.
Her love of the park and its surroundings was the inspiration for a painting that is now part of a national project to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.
Rosenberg is the Yukon’s representative in the Maplewish Mosaic, a collective art installation that now hangs in the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Thirteen artists — representing each of the country’s provinces and territories — were asked to paint one part of the mosaic. When the pieces are hung together they form a maple leaf.
“Each piece is filled with vibrant scenes that artistically express the artists’ distinct experiences as Canadians — both as a reflection of where they have come from and also a look toward where they’d like to go,” according to a description of the project.
Rosenberg’s painting makes up one of the larger points on the maple leaf.
The kernel of an idea started before she was accepted to take part in the mosaic project, she said.
A friend took her on a tour to look at Kluane’s ice fields and glaciers from a small airplane.
“We landed on top of a high (glacier) from which you could see Mount Logan. It was a fantastic, high spot,” she said.
From her high perspective, Rosenberg took a picture of an ice river that had formed.
“I take a lot of pictures and then I paint them and do a lot of art projects and workshops (using) those pictures,” she said.
Later, when she found out organizers of the mosaic wanted her to incorporate the colour orange into her painting, Rosenberg pulled out her picture. She painted a similar image, only this time with an orange sunset in the background.
For her painting she decided to make the river with water instead of ice so it would better reflect the orange, she said.
“I was so impressed by Kluane and how empowering and rejuvenating it was,” she said.
“I kind of felt like when people say ‘wilderness is strong and empowering’ that’s exactly what they mean. That view was exactly it.”
Rosenberg said she chose to paint the piece as if someone was looking down on the river because she believes Yukoners have a strong, clear, understanding of their relationship with nature.
It’s something she calls a “higher perspective.”
In the future she’d like to see that relationship, between people and the outdoors, continue to improve.
“I feel like if we learn to have a better relationship with it … it would be a win-win relationship for both us and nature. It would support us better and we would learn to support it better as well.”
Rosenberg was born and raised in Israel and arrived in Canada in 2011. Since then she’s lived all over the country and moved to Whitehorse in 2014.
This past October she went to the Winnipeg Art Gallery for the unveiling of the mosaic project. It was a chance to see all 13 paintings in one place.
“Each piece was remarkably different. Different colours, different styles, different artists, different methods,” she said.
“One was about reconciliation, mine was about the wilderness, one was about people in Canada, one was very personal.”
Even though they were all unique, the pieces worked well together. There’s a message in that design, she said, and it’s one she hopes people can use for the next 150 years.
“We can use all our variety as a tool to make us stronger and to realize that each of us can contribute more to the community and to Canada rather than to let it (our differences) separate us.”
The Maplewish Mosaic will be on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery until October 2017.
Contact Ashley Joannou at email@example.com