Written by Stephanie Bush (MFA '07)
I am a proud graduate of the University of Waterloo from the Masters in Fine Arts program, class 2007. I have exhibited Internationally and at present I am represented by several prestigious galleries in New England. I have also taught art at the Community College of Vermont (Burlington, VT), and The Shelburne Craft School (also in VT) for 10 years.
The MFA program at the University of Waterloo was instrumental in preparing me to become a professional artist. The faculty and staff were knowledgeable and supportive, we had space to create and experiment and had opportunities to curate and mount exhibitions. Furthermore, we were exposed to visiting artists, grants and the fabulous opportunity presented by the Keith and Win Shantz International Research Scholarship. The experience and confidence I gained as an assistant teacher definitely contributed to my own teaching career. Since leaving Waterloo and eventually settling in Vermont, I have developed a distinct interest in capturing the atmosphere, vibrancy and subtleties of my environment. This focus developed into two main areas of interest in my studio production; complex and intricate winterscapes and a fascination with cows.
From August 25 to September 22 my latest series of cow “portraits”, entitled Ladies in Waiting, will be hanging in a solo show at West Branch Gallery in Stowe, VT. Cows are an everyday presence in my experience of Vermont, but they are largely peripheral. It was the desire to examine more closely that overlooked subject, that lured me to gaze more closely at a being that shares my space and ecology.
I grew up in the city of Montreal with only the occasional weekend or camp experience in the country, so cows are in many ways as foreign to me as a camel. The first thing that overwhelmed me when confronted with the actual presence of a cow, was simply their size, and this translates directly into the size of my canvases. Next was the strange experience, repeated again and again, of having them look directly at me. I had the unshakable feeling of being seen, and seen deeply. One can get lost in their eyes and so the gaze has become an integral part of the series, expressing the relationship between the witnesser and the witnessed.
Half of Ladies in Waiting, consist of small, loose studies on panel. Some of the studies I later expand upon in larger works such as Field Sprite. But most, although named “Studies,” are stand-alone works (i.e. Cow Study 19). The small format allows me the freedom to loosen up and experiment with color and light. The larger pieces naturally progress to be painted with an increasingly smaller brush and become more and more hyper realistic. The passion for color, pattern and texture that I developed during my thesis work at UWaterloo has become an obsession and is in full bloom in my large format work. In fact, the bigger the better in my mind! As I love to capture the beauties their full regal stature.
If you are in the area please stop by for a peek. The work can also be viewed on the gallery web site (www.westbranchgallery.com) and my own site www.stephaniebush.com. I also have a Facebook blog (StephanieBushArtist) where I post progress shots of each painting as they evolve in my studio.