Natasha Henderson

Natasha Henderson's Artist Statement:

Painting is a dance between intent and happenstance. When I paint, I need to allow the creative process, the unknown future, to guide at least some of the work.


Until recently, I lived and worked in the Montreal region of Canada. I have painted and exhibited those paintings since graduating art-school in 1998. I have moved to the Yukon Territory in the summer of 2020.


In recent work, I have taken formal rules found in various forms of music and poetry, and applied these rules to my painting. These canvasses have a sense of rhythm, metre, and mood found in the inspiring art form.


Most recently (starting in summer of 2020), I have found myself painting both the landscape I am in (Yukon Territory) as well as the local creatures I am enamored with (Ravens.) The sky and light effect upon the landscape and its objects are inspiring for me, and the character and beauty of Ravens are so intriguing.




Natasha Henderson, Artist Statement for Under The Yukon Sky


In 2020, I experienced a socially-distanced Spring in Montreal, where suddenly everything changed and I was left with no physical or social connections but that which developed online. I moved to Whitehorse in June 2020, where I was quarantine for two weeks. Finally, two months later I moved to my new community of Dawson City. Although it may seem like a universal feeling by now, I realised during these experiences how important it is to connect with the outside world, even when influenced by protocol and safety. This building of connection required creativity. Online communities developed very quickly in my world this past year. And I still felt a (different) connection to what I had known before of my offline reality. Moving across (and up) a country as large as Canada, during a global pandemic, was a unique experience. Reflecting on this, I realised something: that art can be made within constraints and isolation, and can be a way to try to connect more with the outside world.


The paintings in this exhibition are based on photographs and sketches I made while in the early stages of my arrival in Yukon. Working first from photos, then developing pencil sketches, the paintings evolved according to a structure that utilized both randomness and deliberate, structured input. I selected the order that I layered my paint colours in, out of a hat. There were ten potential paint colours. As I drew the colours out, one by one, that dictated which colour would be used next in all the paintings of a particular size. I feel that this relates to the randomness of fate that hit us all this last year, and the idea of “going with the punches” or “making lemonade out of lemons”. 


The future viewer and the artist both play a part in making artistic choices, both control these choices to some extent, but also lose control: the end result is based upon the interdependency of a community. Layers of paint are layers of meaning. What do these layers mean when they are chosen by randomness, by something other than the artist’s choice? When building up the surface of a painting, this comes even more to light as the community, and potential viewers of the art, recognize places by their representation. They may recognize and reflect more about a place, a site, or landscape in this area with which they are already familiar. The rigidity of concept is broken and made more beautiful by the random interruptions of others’ ideas and recognitions about this place. There is room for a poetic interpretation in this kind of built-up painting. People who see the work can recognize and discover new things about familiar places.

Artists do not practice their art in isolation. Even when alone, while taking photos, making sketches, and in the process of painting, we rely on connections with others in the community. This work reflects my desire to find that fragile balance and harmony between isolation and the need to reach out to people, to mitigate the loneliness.


Finally, I chose the title for the exhibition due to the overwhelming beauty of the Yukon Sky. All this stuff, humans and our wants and needs and interpretations and wishes, it all continues under this glorious Sky. In life and in art, the Sky can be a launching-pad for the imagination.