Peter Buwalda, B.F.A.
Born in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada, in 1976, Buwalda graduated with honours from Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary, in the spring of 1999. He moved to the Okanogan Valley, where he designed and painted murals and thoroughly explored B.C., before returning to Calgary to reconnect with art colleagues. In 2002 he returned to the Algonquin area of Ontario.
His biggest project was raising his two amazing now-teenage daughters, whom he simultaneously taught and learned from in so many ways, every day. As a dear friend once said, “his biggest art project” has been his girls. Peter worked with their mother Rebecca, helping start and nurture ‘BarK Ecologic’, a native plant nursery and natural restoration company. Buwalda was a Municipal Law Enforcement Officer and Lead Trail Technician for the Township of Algonquin Highlands’ Trails department — helping run the Algonquin Highlands Trails system, the Haliburton Highlands Water Trails and the Frost Centre Ski and Snowshoe Trails. During these fifteen-plus years since graduating, Peter has showcased his work in many spaces.Peter had a solo show of Interpretive drawings at the world renowned Algonquin Park Visitors Center and his images of honeybees still adorn the walls at The Canadian National Agriculture Museum. His work has been collected worldwide.
Peter now lives in Colorado with the love of his life, his wife Kimberly. Kim brings new positive energy and unyielding support to Peter’s art-making. The inspiration Kim’s love brings, the natural inspiration the state provides, along with its strong art community, has Peter busy building a renewed, strong studio practice near Boulder. The two have also started a collaboration, creating one-of-a-kind craft items under the name RedChairColorado, which they hope will garner attention through a blend of function, fun, and beauty.
Buwalda’s practice relies heavily on his field work and research, drawing and mapping objects throughout the wilds, studying texts in studio, and tending plants at home. He hopes his artwork will inspire people to step lightly in nature, and he is constantly striving to create work that describes its’ components in a new and animate fashion. Through an ever evolving blend of wet and dry mark-making techniques using chiefly acrylic ink and stretched water-colour paper, and loaded with growing theory; his work intends to stand out in both visual and subjective levels. Buwaldas’ primary focus is on the practice of creating rather than on any of his finished work, however it is the finished pieces that dictate whether he has solved a problem or adequately described the nature behind each series. Differing series of work describe many trains of thought, both formally and subjectively, and so some series speckle and span throughout years of his work.
Buwalda feels that his confidence as an art maker has been bolstered through his investigations into the science behind his vast array of available subjects. These, in turn, guide him to discover more about mark-making. The years working for the Trails Department were very formidable in this regard. “ The most important thing for me is to try to become as informed as I can be about the planet we share, and the state that it is currently in. Art is my way of staying positive; by focusing my attention on both microscopic and the cosmological levels, and finding beauty and awe there. It is hard not to feel amazed at the interconnectedness between all living things, how fortunate we are just to be here, and how fragile it all is. If that impression lasts with the viewer, and in turn their relationship with the earth grows even a little, then I have done my job.”
Buwalda has been asked what he wants his art to ‘do’ for the viewer. The answer lies in both subjective and formal areas. The subjective is effectively summed in the quote above. Formally, he works to create art that will stimulate the viewer in a new way, every time it is taken in.
“By creating a work under many different Calvin temperatures, the work then shows well under many lighting situations and changes throughout the day for the viewer. I also try to set the line in motion. It sometimes appears to deconstruct itself, showing not only something literal, but allowing abstractness to let the viewers mind do its own reconstructing and imaginative discovery.”
Using an approach that is often automatic in nature, a blend of control and chaos is in the making of each piece of art, giving it life and flux.
petebuwalda -at- gmail.com