Donna Bilyk showcases Fernie using a variety of mediums. Her collection is on show at The Arts Station until May 28. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Lethbridge artist opens exhibition in Fernie

Donna Bilyk is showing at The Arts Station until May 28

Fernie is Donna Bilyk’s getaway.

It is this visitor’s perspective that has helped her pick out the best features of the town and capture them with her artistic eye.

She has worked to communicate the feeling she gets when she comes to Fernie and decided after many years that she wouldn’t just stick to one form of art.

Her latest show, on display at The Arts Station, showcases Fernie through oil, charcoal, photography and sculpture art.

“A little bit of this, a little bit of that,” she said. “I think as a creative person it’s whatever you’re being pulled to do.”

Bilyka says this show was a challenge. As she started she realized that most of her work was photography and had to work diligently to prepare several more paintings to show. But, she says, this was a welcome challenge.

“As a visual artist, I’m always pushing myself to do things that I don’t do or haven’t done,” she said.

Bilyk believes she was born an artist. In high school, she was known for her creativity, going on to win art awards and pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

In the 1980s, the Saskatoon-born artist dropped out of university and moved to California and started drawing people in one-minute sketches.

She continues to do this to this day, as well as running Artist’s Touch, a studio out of Coleman, Alberta. Bilyk later returned to school, finished her Bachelors degree and completed a Master of Fine Arts degree. She now resides in Lethbridge.

At her roots, Bilyk is a sculptor. However, her medium of choice is charcoal.

“I’m quick on the draw,” she said, laughing.

In the summer of 2018, Bilyk opened a show based on the Crowsnest Pass during its heyday in Frank, Alberta. This featured 11 six-by-four foot charcoal drawings, created with a sculptor’s style.

Using large pieces of rag paper, Bilyk covered the sheets with charcoal, smudging it in to make the sheets a mid-grey tone. She then ‘drew’ with the eraser, pulling out all the white of the image then putting the charcoal back in to emphasize the shadows.

The drawings on display in Fernie were created using a similar technique. Starting with a toned paper, she would eraser draw through and add colour at the end.

“It’s a visitor’s view. It’s my little getaway,” she said.

“For me, I’m drawn to the past. When I come to Fernie I’m just like a magnet to the old main street that is downtown. For me, it’s about craftsmanship, the old days. How things were ornate, hand done… back alleys with the decay.

“Trying to find the beauty in the rough.”

Bilyk’s work is on display until May 28. Up next at The Arts Station is the photographic work of David Pantuso, opening Thursday, May 30.


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