The Canadian Wildlife Foundation (CWF) has teamed up with world renowned artist Dwayne Harty to paint three works of art featuring the different types of bison that can be found across the globe.
The art is to be displayed in museums around the country including the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta and the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum in Oradell, New Jersey. Organizers are also actively looking for other museums in the US and Canada to host the pieces of art.
Harty, who is still in the process of creating the paintings, explained that he came up with the idea to feature these majestic creatures while working at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
“I knew the board members of the museum that I was working at and proposed to them the concept of creating an exhibition depicting the different bison of the world, and they embraced the idea," stated Harty.
The board ultimately provided the funding to send Harty to Poland to study the European Bison - one of three different species of Bison in the world. (The European Bison has been extinct in the wild since 1919.)
He also approached some of his patrons and collectors about the possibility of funding projects to paint the two North American subspecies, the plains bison and wood bison. That proposal was also well received.
The next step for Harty was to find a non-profit conservation agency willing to get involved with the project.
That organization turned out to be the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
Harty says he studies the animals before going back to his studio to paint. He has received help and guidance about the bison from a variety of experts, including Dr. Blanka Konopka in Poland and Dr. Glenn Plumb in North America, as well as a number of other experts in the field.
"So, I spend my time in the field where they direct me and then sequester myself into the studio and produce the work,” he said.
After the shows in Banff and Oradell, Harty says the pieces will be augmented by scientists at a three-day symposium where the public will be able to observe the exhibition, while also hearing about the animals and ongoing conservation efforts.
“The public will be invited to see the art exhibition, but from my perspective, more importantly, listen to the most up-to-date and complete progress of conserving bison across the globe,” said Harty of the symposium.
Some of the scientists who will be at the symposium are also going to be at the International Bison Conference next year in Saskatoon, where Harty is also scheduled to present some of his work.
“I’ll have some work displayed (at the Bison Conference), sort of a preview in a way, although the entire complement of the works won't be finished,” he said.
The scientists Harty hopes to join hin at the symposium, who will also be attending the International Bison Conference, include Dr. Blanka Konopka and Dr. Glenn Plumb (the Director of the World Bison Specialist for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature), as well as some people from Ted Turner’s Flying-D Ranch located in Montana.
Harty is one of North America's preeminent wildlife and landscape painters. He has over 30 years of experience and has been called one Canada's best contemporary wildlife painters.
Harty, 64, was originally born in Shaunavon and currently lives near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Jacob Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shaunavon Standard