Marlena Wyman: Edmonton, Alberta
Marlena is an Edmonton artist and third generation prairie woman. She was raised on her family farm near Rockyford, Alberta, which was homesteaded by her paternal grandparents. History is an inspirational source for Marlena’s creative work, fed in part by her long-time work as Audio-Visual Archivist at the Provincial Archives of Alberta. She left the Archives in 2011 to more fully pursue her work as a visual artist.
Marlena studied visual art, history and education at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. Her work has been exhibited in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Newfoundland, and is included in private and public collections in Canada and the United States.
Prairie landscape and sky, the work and heritage of rural life, and primary source archival research all inform her creative expression. The consuming immensity of the prairie environment is a recurring theme in early settlers’ writings, and a compelling influence for her artistic vision, underlined by her own memories of growing up on the open, unrestricted prairie.
In her former work as an archivist, Marlena found that one of the significant gaps in archival collections is that of women’s stories. In particular, the voice of early prairie women is largely excluded from mainstream history.
As an artist, she honours these women’s considerable contributions, advocate for their rightful place in history, and encourage women to deposit their own and their foremothers’ records in archives.
Marlena is the recipient of several awards including the Edmonton Historical Board Recognition Award for her contributions to archives and visual arts. She has been awarded artists’ residencies in Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, is co-founder of Urban Sketchers Edmonton, and served as the Secretary of the Women’s Art Museum Society of Canada.
Marlena’s art practice is an investigation into the concepts of memory and our relationship with the natural world and the material culture of our society. It is an examination of human passage and migration, uprootedness, the perception of what is home, and the longing for the familiar of the past. Her artwork is expressed through the mediums of encaustic, image transfer, oil stick, found object, watercolour and drawing.