We sat down recently to learn more about our 2019 featured artist, the talented Marisa Pahl, to learn more about her artwork, her inspiration and her latest series #FamiliarPeaks. Marisa is inviting you to share a story of a relationship you have with a mountain and a photo of this place that you took (be sure to submit your photos by Mar 1st!). She will be choosing a few of these photos to paint and will also feature some on her Instagram page. Read more on her invitation here and check out our interview with Marisa below!
In your bio, you write that ‘art ruled your life’ from a young age and that learning and being creative were the two things you love(d) the most. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired and motivated you to carry your passion for art and education to the present day?
Ya it’s an interesting journey when passion becomes a way of life. Art and education have so much power to transform our world and connect people, I think that’s why I’m committed to both – regardless of how that changes and evolves over time.
I’m a huge nerd when it comes to sustainability, environmental policy, land stewardship and conservation — so these things are woven into a lot of my creative projects. Knowledge and research are often the fuel propelling my work. There’s all these brilliant, big hearted people doing fantastic work in support of the environment but often they are working alone or in small groups. Since I’m kind of a big introvert myself, it’s been incredible to see how sharing my art and creative process brings people together and makes me feel part of this larger community.
Community is pretty much the best antidote for the mean greens I’ve ever experienced.
You also wrote in your bio that when you stopped dreaming and started doing, that’s when your current journey began. Any advice for others on crossing the line from dreaming and doing?
Whatever you’re dreaming of — start small, today. Wake up early, borrow some great headphones, use a timer, get off your phone. Do what you can to keep doing that small thing every day. Eventually the space carved out for doing expands. This process is not perfect and it’s always evolving but it creates all the good feels. Does the momentum, satisfaction and endorphins you get balance out the time, energy and/or lack of sleep required? That you’ll have to see for yourself. Some folks who have inspired my own balance of dreaming and doing are Elle Luna, Austin Kleon and Yvon Chouinard.
Your artwork is typically only 37 mm x 37 mm – that’s tiny! Why do you choose to paint on such a small scale?
I started painting tiny as a way to challenge myself to finish a painting every day. Then I realized that my tiny paintings fit into this old, beat up, waterproof Pelican case I had laying around. That happy accident made painting on paper outside in a coastal temperate rainforest way less silly! Since then, I’ve hauled my painting kit along on all sorts of rainy and wave filled adventures… backpacking the Westcoast Trail, kayak camping around the Broken Islands and exploring the coastlines of Haida Gwaii and Newfoundland. The small scale has become a mainstay based on pure convenience and satisfaction — though I am also enjoying painting larger colour studies in the field these days.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your latest series – #FamiliarPeaks?
Ya, it all happened kind of fast! I wanted to find a way to include people in my painting process during the festival this year. Naturally I wanted to focus on mountains so I invited people to share a story with me of a mountain they feel connected to. I’ll choose a few of the photos + stories as inspiration for some of my live paintings and highlight some of the entries on my Instagram.
You’re invited to join in and I’m accepting entries by email or Instagram until March 1st!
As a way to thank people who join in, everyone who shares a photo and story is entered to win a little mountain care package from me. You can see the proper invite on my website here.
Completed paintings will be posted daily on Instagram for auction from February 25th – March 1st.
Your artwork is inspiring for so many reasons. Not only is it beautiful and unique, but you also use it as a platform to educate about topics you are passionate about — like the environment or the connection between land and people. Speaking of land and people, can you tell us a bit about the Squamish Atlas website?
The Squamish Atlas is a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language place name map tool created by the non-profit Kwi Awt Stelmexw. If you spend time outside here on the North Shore or Sea to Sky, this interactive mapping tool will expand your historical knowledge of the places you visit and introduce you to some of the traditional indigenous place names. Donating to indigenous led, local language and culture initiatives is also a way to contribute as a visitor – wherever you are in the world.
If you’re in a different area, check out www. Native-land.com
(Note: this one is not from an indigenous perspective.)
Getting to know the land you’re on is one way to start learning how to participate in the process of truth, reconciliation and right relations. I’m grateful to live in a place where Squamish, Tsleil Waututh and Musqueum culture is so present.
What show are you most looking forward to seeing next week as part of our 22nd Annual Festival?
Clearly, climate and culture are my jam so The Beyond Climate show with David Suzuki will be a highlight for me. I’m bringing my mom as my date! I’m also really looking forward to the Protect Our Winters show next week.
What is the best way to get in touch with you to purchase your artwork or inquire about a custom project or initiative?
Thanks for asking! Email is the best to get in touch about paintings and projects. Then we can jump on the phone, Skype or meet in person. My home studio in East Van is open by appointment.
If you’d like to work with me on an art fundraiser in 2019-2020, you can apply here to be a partner or request an info package from me in the mail.
Thanks Marisa! Be sure to check out the #FamiliarPeaks series on Marisa’s instagram page.