Zuzana Riha

To me, art is the second-best thing after time in nature. Through my work, I try to bring the outside in. I don’t have any rules or set methods, I am constantly influenced by our local landscapes and wildlife, and materials that are either found or recycled. It’s even more satisfying to use something that would otherwise end up in a landfill and turn it into something that can be appreciated again.

I guess I’m a curious artist. I’m always trying out new mediums and figuring out how I can manipulate them to create something interesting. I do a lot of painting in acrylics, recycled sculpture, cement sculpture, driftwood sculpture, chainsaw carving, wood mosaics, murals printmaking, welding, and anything else that I think I could create art with. I’ve been told that I need to focus on one thing and get really good at it to be a successful artist. Though I don’t disagree, I also don’t think this presently works for me.

To me, art (like nature), is about exploring and imagining. I never know what I am going to create next. It’s a type of play, much like a child’s imaginative curiosity. I’m always learning and trying to figure out how to make something new and exciting. I think that the more I can understand methods and materials, the wider my scope of creativity can be. My father always told me that I could do anything, and this has stuck with me through my life, especially in my artwork. This in itself fills my soul with gratification. Maybe one day I will focus, maybe not.

My driftwood sculptures are a reflection of time and nature. Assembling the weathered wood makes me think of each piece’s individual history. Imagine a tree contributing oxygen into our atmosphere, producing photosynthesising leaves or needles over perhaps hundreds of years, providing shelter for other beings, maybe even cradling a nest for a family of birds, or offering refuge for a young bear cub! Then aging gracefully or beaten by a storm to fall to the ground and be carried by the water, smoothing and shaping its form into a ghostly resemblance of what it used to be. Like the bones of a tree. Washed up onto the shore and taken home in my bucket to be reassembled into something that may have been familiar in its surroundings when it was alive.

The recycled “Moose on the Loose” I am presently working on, is quite the opposite. Also in the form of a wild creature, but created from the discards of humankind. Materials once born from nature, then manipulated into objects to suit our needs, and discarded when our use for them ended. It’s a reminder that nature will prevail. We as humans might not enjoy the ride, but the world will continue without us. This is only a result of our actions.

Creating art is a way for me to reach out and touch hearts by translating moments into paintings and sculptures which leap barriers of language, time and space. I want the viewer to experience the beauty of the landscape, to connect with my animal portraits and sculptures, to get a sense of their character and soul. If people can understand that we are all sentinel beings sharing this earth, and we are inherently connected to nature, perhaps we can protect it a bit better.

Visit zuzanariha.art to learn more about Zuzana and her creations. Zuzana is the June artist in the Fernie Arts Station’s Moose on the Loose art installation exhibit. Visit theartsstation.com for details.