Lake Powell Chronicle | Artist premieres Antelope Canyon paintings at Page Art Festival

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ATrtist Emily Scott’s obsession with Antelope Canyon dates back to when she was a young child growing up in Montana and discovered pictures of the northern Arizona landmark while searching for images of “cool nature places.”

“Antelope Canyon was something I was obsessed with from very, very young and knew I would make it there in person eventually,” she said. “I’ve just never seen anything else like it.”

Scott finally realized his dream of touring Upper Antelope Canyon in 2011.

“I’ve never been anywhere else that makes me feel the way that place makes me feel, just comforted and held and peaceful,” she said of that visit. “How do you question a greater creative power when you witness something like that? It leaves me speechless. When I saw it in person the first time, I cried a lot.”

It wasn’t until 10 years after that visit, though, that Scott felt moved to make paintings of Antelope Canyon. The result is the Sacred series – six 5-foot-by-6-foot paintings based on the photographs she took of Upper Antelope Canyon in 2011 – that will premiere at the Page Fine Art Festival from April 7 to 10.

Scott said she started the first painting in the series in January 2021.

“It’s always been on the list of things I’ve wanted to do, but there were so many other things happening: moves and work and commissions from people and other little things,” she said, adding that last January it just “popped into [my] head that now is the time, and I wanted to do something very large.”

Her idea was to make the biggest painting she had ever done dimension-wise.

“The intent originally was just this one painting that I had in my mind,” she said. “I think my original desire for the painting was a selfish one. I wanted a giant piece that felt like I was there, that I could have in my home and feel like I was walking into the canyon myself at all times in my living room. Then it just exploded from there.”

That “explosion” occurred when Scott was contacted by staff at the City of Page about presenting her Antelope Canyon work in Page. As a result, that single painting she had in mind suddenly expanded into a six-piece series.

“We had a meeting and started talking about the work and the potential things that we could do to collaborate around that work and would be beneficial for the community. The Page people were like, ‘We’re going to do a big art festival and you’re going to headline it.’ I’m like, ‘OK, I’ll be there,’” Scott laughed. “Once I started, it was like, well, I’ve committed. It got really real and got a deadline put on it, and everything else got put to the side while I work on these and these alone.”

With the Page Fine Art Festival deadline in place, it took Scott about a year to finish the six-painting Sacred series, which she wrapped up in the first week of February this year.

A lifelong fascination with art and nature

Born and raised in Montana, Scott has harbored an interest in art from an early age. She was mostly raised by her grandparents, and her grandmother was a “very arts and crafty person” who could do everything from sewing and needlework to quilting and painting.

“When my grandmother got to the paint, that’s what really resonated with me and brought me the most joy and interest and love,” Scott said. “Once she noticed that, she funneled a lot of that to me.”

Her grandfather noticed this interest as well, and he bought Scott her first Bob Ross oil painting starter kit when she was around 6 or 7.

“I still have my Bob Ross palette knife. It’s not even weakened at all 30 years later, so I still use it all the time. I love Bob. He’s the man,” she said. Scott has long since switched from oil to acrylic because she prefers more environmentally friendly mediums that do not require chemicals to clean up.

Rather than go to art school, Scott earned a bachelor’s degree in human services and a master’s in executive nonprofit leadership. She worked in the nonprofit sector for about a decade, including several years spent overseas in places like England and Macedonia, but her interest in art never waned.

Scott said the main inspiration for her artwork has always been nature-based.

“That’s what drives me and my work, and it’s what I want to depict so that other people can have some experience or relation with that if they aren’t seeing it in person,” she said.

When she travels, she seeks “epic nature” that brings her “comfort and peace and joy.”

“The more places you explore, the more you recognize the value of things that you have experienced previously. Coming from the Glacier Park area of ​​western Montana, the only thing that I’ve seen elsewhere in the world that even comes close to that epicness is the fjords in Norway,” she said.

Scott has been living in Washington State but will soon move to Texas. Her road trip to Page for the art festival includes plans to visit Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, White Sands National Park in New Mexico, and Lower Antelope Canyon, which she didn’t visit during her 2011 trip to northern Arizona.

“Lower Antelope Canyon is on my agenda for this trip, and now that the lake is dropping so much, tragically, all of these new canyons are being exposed. I’m very excited to get into those as well and just get more material for the next round of paintings,” she said.

Scott said that one of the main goals of her artwork is to increase awareness and investment in the natural world, and to call attention to the urgency and importance of taking care of the land.

“The Earth doesn’t need us to survive, we need it. There is a seeming mentality that it’s just one big endless resource for us to do with as we please,” Scott said. “She will shake us off if we become too much of a danger to her. We need to recognize that.”

Emily Scott’s Sacred series of acrylic paintings premieres at a private viewing at Rim View Terrace on Thursday, April 7, from 6-9 pm Tickets are $15 and are available at City Hall.

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