October 24 - November 22, 2017
Opening reception: Friday October 27, 7-9pm
“Many Lives” showcases selections of artwork from the various series and artistic explorations that Perry Rath has pursued over the past six years since his last show in Smithers Art Gallery. The themes and content vary – so much so, in fact, that it could almost be mistaken for a group show of work by different artists – and include abstracted landscape map paintings, sculptures and watercolour sketches investigating human’s relationship to Nature, portraits of LGBTQ+ youth, portraits of young Indigenous cultural activists, and illustrations for a literary project centred on a Vole character. Each series has its own separate artist statement which is posted alongside the artworks.
Rath’s practice has taken a number of different directions and series, encompassing installations, objects/artifacts, paintings, printmaking, publications, collaborations and education. These projects have consistently demonstrated an important sensitivity to materials, and explore the interplay of the idea and the materials, where process is as important as intent. In his range of work, Rath seeks visual and conceptual relationships of memory, renewal, presence/absence, history, time, place and communication. He is interested in the inherent meanings of objects and images as they relate to their materials, histories, new configurations, the continuum of certainty/uncertainty, and the interpretive impulse of the viewer.
Ultimately, he strives to create artworks that are aesthetically interesting to look at, and contain layers of meaning to excavate if the viewer wishes to look deeper. He believes in the power of art to create change in the world and in ourselves, to be a way to increase awareness of important issues, and share stories and perceptions. Regardless of the concepts behind the work, his aim is to provide visual stimuli to transform the viewer, to come away seeing in altered ways.
Graduating in Fine Art from the University of Guelph in 1995, Perry Rath has pursued artistic projects in a variety of international venues. Rath has exhibited across Canada, and internationally in Australia, India, Germany, Britain, Russia, Hungary, Taiwan and the US. In 2004, his artwork attracted the praise of Adrienne Clarkson during her tenure as the Governor-General of Canada. Rath’s projects have been used variously, including on BC Parks’ signage, in international books and journals, a variety of websites, and on CD covers (Juno & Latin Grammy-winner Alex Cuba; Victoria-based ambient musician Maseev; and a Ken Wilbur spoken word CD to name a few). As an activist, he was a coordinator of 4000 Reasons, a multidisciplinary arts festival in response to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project, and he had artwork touring with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s Art for an Oil-Free Coast exhibition. In recent years, he has been represented at Parallax Art Fair, NYC; in What Those Who Teach Can Do, at the Art Institute of Vancouver; at the International Biennial Print Exhibit at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art; amongst others. He was a featured artist representing Northern BC at the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Rath has been interviewed on a number of regional and provincial radio programs. He has served as a jury member on several occasions, most recently for BC ArtStarts in the Classroom.
Born in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, in 1971, Rath settled near Smithers in 2002, living rurally with his wife, 2 young sons, and daughter. Teaching art at Smithers Secondary School since 2006, he has developed a range of arts initiatives, receiving a provincial award for the “Honouring Our Elders” portrait legacy project. He has helped strengthen a foundation of youth art in the Bulkley Valley, and works with young citizens at SSS through ‘Youth Action’, an environmental and social justice group, and the Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA), a group for LGBTQ+ youth and allies.
Rath has established himself as a prominent artist, educator, mentor and advocate in Northern BC.