Old Road (Joe Henry Highway). Oil on canvas, 60” x 72”. 2017
I made this painting during a residency at Tombstone Territorial Park in the Yukon last August. It was made outdoors or “plein air” and I worked it for ten days from morning until night, which came late being that far north. This painting chronicles an interaction with place from cold and rainy days, to the rare kiss of sunny warmth, it witnessed a dynamic sky and constantly changing colours as autumn descended the hillsides. This painting indexes hundreds of hours of looking and responding and also hiking, freezing, wildlife, the scent of spruce, moose meat, a bitter wind and cold nights in a wall tent.
“Old Road” refers to the foreground of this painting which is the old route of the Joe Henry Highway (otherwise known as the Dempster Highway) which is now being reclaimed by lichen and fireweed. Joe Henry was a T’rondëk Hwëch’in Elder who was the guide for the present route of the highway. For over a hundred years, Joe and Annie Henry lived on this territory in what would seem to be an unforgiving, hostile place but is actually incredibly vital.
This painting was made on T’rondëk Hwëch’in Territory, Masi cho.