Most people that know Barbara Maye have taken an art class from her.
She has been teaching painting, drawing, pastels, abstraction and mixed media in and around Revelstoke for over 10 years.
Others know her for her pet portraits, which, through realism, clients say capture the spirit of their furry friends.
But do you know that Maye is a practicing and exhibiting multi-media artist for the past 20 years?
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Primarily focused on soap stone carvings, acrylic and watercolour paintings and pastel drawings, she has also produced wood and paper conceptual installations and been privileged to exhibition in Nelson, Calgary, St. Thomas, New York City, and even in Germany, as well as locally and regionally.
Her exhibition history has included formal and informal artist talks and workshops for both kids and adults.
Most of her art is informed by research before the physical creation begins. And with her newest body of work, Tectonic Perspectives, that research is taking the form of a mentorship on soapstone prospecting.
Revelstoke has a rich history of mining and prospecting and several local artists have become well-known for their locally sourced soapstone creations.
Maye has aligned with one retired prospector and carver Mark McKay, who was once the President of the Revelstoke Arts Guild (now the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre).
Kindred spirits in their love of soapstone and nature, and backed by a grant from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, they have already headed into the mountains surrounding Revelstoke in hunt for soapstone in the vein.
But the purpose of the journey is not to harvest stone.
Most soapstone locations are under mineral title claims, so its not really up for grabs, but also, there is already a large amount of harvested stone around – which had been passed on from former stone carvers.
In fact, Maye has a nice supply squirreled away in her year-round carving studio.
No, the purpose of this mentorship journey is to understand place, home if you will, of her carving media, as well as the process and transformation that created it.
You see, soapstone is like the butterfly of the rock world, the result of a metamorphosis created by the movements of Mother Earth (tectonics) and other environmental factors which force a complete change in form more beautiful than the original.
With her carvings, Maye longs to reveal the inner beauty of this tectonic influence, with high smooth polish and the enticement for the viewer to touch.
Therefore, after her four-month mentorship with McKay, Maye will be venturing on a new series of abstract soap stone carvings to share what she has learned.
She calls the intended carvings “flip stones” and already has a couple of prototypes under her belt. Flip stones are sculptures that have no specific base but rather several resting positions. Essentially, the stones encourage contact – to be touched, lifted, closely examined and reset into a new and different resting position. Kind of like what we do with a pretty rock in nature, while changing the experience of the stone for the next person’s initial contact. Every interaction has an impact on you, and someone else.
Maye is currently exhibiting her work at The Modern until Aug. 5. You can also see her work July 28 at the Garden and Art Tour and Aug. 10 and 11 at the Columbia Basin Culture Tour.