For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council updates the profile of photographer, visual artist, editor and writer Anita Schewe Drabyk. After growing up on a farm near Beausejour, she studied biology and ecology at both Winnipeg universities, resided in Saskatoon, and moved to Pinawa in 1985. While her husband worked in China, she lived near Shanghai for two years.
Drabyk’s photography, visual art and writing combine all of her interests, including biology studies, life experiences and love of nature. For her, close-ups of flowers and objects showcase the beauty and colour hidden in otherwise softer scenes. She also enjoys working with the subtleties of the light and colour of the prairies. Places she has visited and people she has met influence all of her work.
She creates her art and photography by experimenting with different media and incorporating the advice and expertise of various painters, photographers and writers from across Canada. She said, “In my nonfiction writing, I draw on personal experiences growing up and working.”
Drabyk learned her art forms by self-study but also with the help of many teachers. She has taken courses at Emily Carr School of Art and with Courtney Milne, a Saskatchewan photographer, and participated in a Saskatoon photography group.
Over the years, she joined several Pinawa art and photography groups, and various local writing groups. Vivian Thomson, a well-known Pinawa artist, Nancy-Lou Ateah, an experienced artist in Victoria Beach, and many other instructors have helped her refine her techniques and expand her knowledge. She has also taken writing classes with Donna Besel, an award-winning writer. She said, “Our own local artists have provided great inspiration, knowledge, and practice.”
Recently, Boreal Shores Tour featured Drabyk’s work, at one of the tour’s stops in Pinawa. She has also taught introductory photography classes and art classes including two years as an aide in the Canadian school in China. She said, “Having a daughter in Girl Guides, hockey and sports has expanded my subject areas for all of my artistic pursuits.”
Her favourite art quote: “Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” – Annie Leibovitz