Artist Statements

Valerie Huff

I have a passion for growing communities, relationships, and plants!   My formal education includes a BSc degree in Agriculture and a MSc degree in Ecological Restoration.   I have worked as an applied botanist, conservationist, and educator in the West Kootenay for over 25 years.  My environmental consulting company marries many inter-related areas of expertise including plant science and restoration ecology; data management; and outreach, training, and education.  When I’m not behind a computer I can be found in my garden or hiking our local trails with camera in hand, ready to snap photos of flowers, pollinators, and any other natural treasure I can find along the way.  I am a founding member of the Kootenay Native Plant Society.

Eva Johansson

I have been with the Kootenay Camas Project from the start, researching camas in the field and sharing the messages of this native lily with West Kootenay communities.  I am a geographer, a restoration ecologist, and a native plant grower.   Observing plants and their insect visitors through the lens of the camera allows me to focus in on “the small things that run the world.”   The beauty of insects and the complexity of their interactions with camas flowers in our spring meadows intrigues and inspires me.

Mary Kate Woodward

I am, and have been, a working artist, focusing on drawing and printmaking, an author, and an art instructor since before coming to the Kootenays.  My drawings focus on simplification, abstraction, and exaggeration facilitating design and flow of line.  They limit the representational, focusing on the variety and beauty of line itself.  The subjects inspire the compositions.  Colour is used in some drawings for the benefit of particular subjects and compositions.

My work is exhibited and sold in one-person, group, juried, artist collective, and club exhibitions, and through art rentals.  Presently, it is displayed at the Kootenay Gallery, at my permanent venue, Roger Carlson’s Hollis Wealth office in Castleaird Plaza, with Castlegar Arts and Crafts at In-Gear Mechanical on Columbia Avenue, and at Cafe Books.  The Gallery and bookstore also sell my book, “Butterflies and Butterfly Gardening in the Pacific Northwest.”   My art works hang in collections in Scandinavia, Great Britain, China, the USA, and across Canada.

Heather MacAskill

My visual art is defined by geography.  As a visual translator, my first love is drawing – the immediacy of a gesture, a dance of ink, graphite, or pigment on a toothy surface.  My digital photography surveying the natural world can also serve as a point of departure.  Media selection is an emotional response to subject matter, and includes oil pastel, pen+ink, graphite, watercolour, oil, acrylic, wool, and collage.  My creative repertoire includes explorations of typography, colour relationship, cartography, physics, astronomy, blind contour drawing, landscape, flora, Canadiana, and the interaction of light and water.  I connect to the landscape by way of running, biking, and x-c skiing meditations.

I am a Visual Communications graduate of the Alberta College of Art (and Design), where I also studied photography, clay, and printmaking. I studied Mixed Media and Fibre at Kootenay School of the Arts, and most recently, Geomatics Engineering Technology at SAIT Polytechnic.

I have exhibited work in solo and group exhibitions in the West Kootenay, most recently in “Making A Mark,” at the Capitol Theatre in Nelson, and in the award-winning exhibition “Thirst! Thinking with Our Senses” for the Columbia River Basin 2014 Conference in Spokane, and its subsequent exhibition “Roll On Columbia” at Touchstones, Nelson.


I currently live and work in the heart of the West Kootenay.  Imbuing my vision with the divine symbolism of herbal medicine, worldly folklore, magic, and the occult my work contains a kind of shamanic exploration of meaning that recognizes the importance and power of the image.  My work displays a virtuosic understanding of text & simulacra and their role within our contemporary visual culture.  Straddling the physical and metaphysical, organic and architectural, painterly and graphic sensibilities, I fuse multiple visual strategies to forge an aesthetic language entirely of my own making.

I received a BFA in Textile Design from Concordia University in Montreal, an Art, Craft and Design diploma from the Kootenay School of the Arts, as well as a Bachelor of Education Degree from UBC.  When not madly painting and drawing in my art studio, you can find me frolicking in the deep forest with my wild plant and animal companions.

George Koochin

A native of the Kootenays, I have dedicated my life to creativity and art making.  With a background in Design & Communications (Selkirk College, 1987) and a Masters Degree in Fine Art (St. Petersburg, 1995) I have had the good fortune to realize my life-long passion for Art.  Professional highlights in this journey have included teaching at the Kootenay School of the Arts (Nelson), the College of Interactive Arts (Vancouver), and the Art Institute (Vancouver), and mentoring many students both publicly and privately.

Over the past 20 years I have exhibited work at many locations in British Columbia including my first one-person show at the Kootenay Gallery (“Dreaming in Black and White”, 1998).  My artwork is found in collections across North America, Europe, and Asia.  In my work, I continue to explore such themes as beauty, nature, spirituality, and freedom.

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