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Wild@Art Stories: Chloe and the Mountain Caribou

Mar 13 2013

Canadians hold them in their hands every day, and yet they may never see one in the wild. The caribou (Rangifer tarandus) is featured on the Canadian twenty-five cent coin, but in many areas of Canada, these animals are no longer part of the landscape. Chloe Brum decided to use this sad paradox to create artwork representing the caribou. “I saw that the quarter has a caribou on it, and that is really known to a lot of people in their everyday lives,” Chloe says.

When the 16-year old student in the Byng Arts Mini School at Vancouver’s Lord Byng Secondary had a chance to participate in an art project on BC’s species at risk with her art teacher Donna Webber and the Wilderness Committee, she first thought she would focus on owls, but she soon realized that she would create more impact with the mountain caribou. “Where are people going to see owls? Lots of people recognize the quarter and recognize the animal on the quarter,” she says.

Caribou Out of the Quarter

Inspired by Andy Warhol, Chloe started playing with a quarter image, and used high contrast colours, patterns, and repetition to show manipulated representations of the caribou. “what is a quarter if the caribou is not in the quarter?” Chloe asked herself, hoping that when people viewed her artwork, they would understand that the caribou is literally out of the picture.

Chloe worked hard on this project to go beyond classic representations of animals. “It was not appropriate to draw a picture of a caribou in the field because that is not the reality of what is going on,” she says.

Born and raised in Vancouver, Chloe loves gardening and growing food in her spare time. Before starting this project, she had heard about a few of the endangered species in British Columbia such as owls, but she did not know anything about caribou. “I always thought there were a lot of caribou,” she says. While she learned about climate change in her science class at school, she says that the topic of endangered species had been hardly covered, so the art project was a great opportunity to learn more.

Getting the Message Across

Chloe's artwork was featured at the VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Wild@Art exhibition in October and November 2012, along with artwork celebrating BC’s species at risk from five other elementary and secondary schools across the province.

Chloe hopes that when people see her caribou artwork, they will realize the caribou needs help. “If they are not having a smile on their face, but trying to understand what I am saying, it would make me feel I got my message across,” Chloe says. “It is not a matter of niceness, it is a serious problem and I don't just want to make pretty pictures about it.”

-- Text and Photos by Isabelle Groc for the Wilderness Committee --

Caribou are in trouble. You can learn more about mountain caribou, and also help caribou and BC's Species at Risk:

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