Zuzana Riha’s family immigrated to Canada when she was a child.
“When my family moved to Canada there was a definite language barrier,” she said. “As a child I didn’t learn to speak English until I went to school. I occupied my time doing art.”
While in school Riha continued to develop her art and got a scholarship to Emily Carr University of Art.
“I also love being outside and working in the mountains so I was always torn between an art career and working to conserve our nature and lands and special places,” Riha said. “It seems I’ve kind of managed to do both throughout my life.”
Most recently Riha’s art was featured at the Revelstoke Visual Art Gallery and Luna Nocturnal Art & Wonder last month. She created both brightly coloured acrylic paintings as well as figures made from bicycle tires.
“I like to incorporate nature as much as I can,” Riha said. “Most of my pieces are nature based, like wildlife or landscape or stuff you would find outside.”
Riha often finds inspiration while hiking or walking in the Revelstoke area. She sketches her ideas and does some research before sitting down with paint and a brush.
Riha said her style varies depending on the medium and the inspiration of artists around her.
“I think all artists are inspired by other artists and it is really neat here in Revelstoke, we have a lot of really great artists with varied styles and we are starting gain a really good sense of community within the artist groups,” she said.
She is also continually learning. She did a plein air workshop with Charlie Easton in Jasper this year. She has also done acrylic workshops with artist David Langevin.
“He really taught me a lot about how your eye perceives colours,” Riha said.
The images in Riha’s most recent show were animal portraits.
“They kind of create their own character as I am painting,” Riha said.
Her goal is to help people understand that all beings are sentinel and we all have different ways of communicating.
“I usually like to focus a lot on the eyes, because the eyes are the windows to the soul and I want to make my animals come alive and have people connect to them emotionally,” Riha said.
This years Luna creation started as a daydream.
“Isn’t that how art usually start,” Riha laughed.
While collecting the objects for the caribou she created for Luna last year, Riha gathered a lot of bicycle tires. As she was creating the caribou she was thinking about how the tires resembled black fur.
She made the raven with the pieces of bicycle tire that she didn’t use for the bears.
Riha moved to Revelstoke in 1994 and said that the art community has grown a lot since then.
“I’m so excited on how it’s going right now,” Riha said. “Such a vibrant community it’s just starting to take off, I can just feel this energy.”