The Island Mountain Arts Public Gallery in Wells is hosting an exhibition launch for Sarah Zimmerman’s The Fish Project July 19 at 7 p.m. File photo

The Fish Project launches July 19 at IMA Gallery in Wells

Northwestern B.C. artist Sarah Zimmerman started this project in spring 2017

The next show at the Island Mountain Arts Public Gallery in Wells will explore the intersection of fish, culture and art.

Island Mountain Arts (IMA) is excited to announce an exhibition launch on Friday, July 19 at 7 p.m. featuring the work of Sarah Zimmerman (affectionately known by many as Saz), titled “The Fish Project.” The exhibition will remain on view through Aug. 25.

Zimmerman has been painting her entire life. She was born and raised in Edmonton, and the urban arena has long played an important role in her life, according to the IMA website.

“Since moving to Terrace in 2000, the incredible bounty of the Northwest has become a constant source of inspiration for her,” according to IMA.

“From rooster portraits to vibrant snails, her pieces are fun, vibrant acrylic messes that are also a nod to her surroundings. Her work is a whimsical exploration of her environment and sense of place.”

Zimmerman drew inspiration for this exhibition from the salmon and oolichan and their importance to the people of Northwestern B.C. Zimmerman began the project in the spring of 2017.

Creating each piece was a multi-faceted process that involved sourcing or catching the fish, cleaning it, preparing it for printing, painting it and then pressing the prints onto thin paper. The prints were then transferred to the wood panels using a gel transfer technique.

Each painting on its own is a reflection of a small, but critical piece of the ecosystem.

The Fish Project includes a series of multimedia pieces that incorporate the old Japanese art of fish printing with a more modern gel transfer technique to transfer the prints of regionally harvested oolichan and salmon to wooden canvases.

“For me, creating art is a way of expressing myself, exploring my surroundings and combining complex ideas in a visual medium,” Zimmerman says on the IMA website. “Art brings people and ideas together in a way that no other exercise can.”

Zimmerman’s show also speaks to the relationship of fish to people, both settler and Indigenous. Zimmerman has collaborated on a multimedia installation piece, which is a nod to the oolichan fishery and how regional Indigenous people traditionally processed this incredible fish. In collaboration with Gitxsan/Nisga’a cedar weaver, Jaimie Davis, this piece is a reflection of the one-time abundance of this Indigenous fishery and the fragility of its stocks today, according to IMA.

Zimmerman has also collaborated with Sto:lo artist Amanda Hugon on a series of oolichan block prints that speak to the social, ceremonial, food and healing qualities of oolichan in a series of pieces called liquid gold.

Zimmerman is excited to share this project with folks visiting the IMA Gallery and ArtsWells festivalgoers.

“Wells is one of those amazingly unique places that keeps drawing me back year after year, be it for art, learning, escape or music,” she said. “Wells holds a special place in my heart and has been an integral part of my artistic journey, and because of that, I am super excited to be showing The Fish Project at the Wells Gallery. It’s exciting for me to share this project, not only with the wonderful people of Wells but with those incredible creative souls that make their way to Wells each summer, especially during ArtsWells.”

READ MORE: Artists learning plein air painting and printmaking in Wells

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