Earth Science and Art

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Ralph, Saskatchewan
print series, prints, art commission, 75th anniversary of a province, 75 anniversary of Saskatchewan, commemorating an event, Art exhibition - Vision'80, bird's-eye view, topographic, disappearing way of life, domestic expressionism, satellite view, Soo Line Railway, southeast Saskatchewan, topography, topographic features of Saskatchewan, faith, generic community, disappearing way of life, loss, villages in Saskatchewan, community life, disappearing community,
description

Ralph, Saskatchewan was one of a  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of prints created by DeLouchery as a  commissionA contract between an artist and an individual. The artist agrees to create an image or design for the individual for a predetermined price.  by the Government of Saskatchewan for the province’s 75th anniversary in 1980. After the Vision ’80 exhibition the Saskatchewan Arts Board presented the  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  to the MacKenzie Art Gallery for its permanent collection. 

In Ralph, Saskatchewan, from the MacKenzie Art Gallery collection, DeLouchery presents us with a bird’s-eye (aerial) view of Ralph, or perhaps a satellite-eye view, of Ralph, a small community on the Soo Line Railway in southeastern Saskatchewan. Highway #39, the rail line and other topographic features are easy to identify on DeLouchery’s print.

start quoteBut there were no grain elevators in Ralph; they were long gone. So my concerns were about disappearing towns.end quote
-- Marsha Delouchery

A more difficult task is to locate Ralph. DeLouchery has chosen to set her bird’s-eye view at a height that makes it impossible to spot the community. In fact, the print could be depicting any one of hundreds of locations in southern Saskatchewan with similar topographic features, but by comparing her print with a recent satellite image of Ralph (see this image in the Science behind the Art section), we can confirm that DeLouchery has indeed captured many of the details of the  landscapeA painting, photograph or other work of art which depicts scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. There is invariably some sky in the scene. (Artlex.com) Landscape is also a term that may also refer simply to a horizontally-oriented rectangle, just as a vertically-oriented one may be said to be oriented the portrait way. (Artlex.com)  of the Ralph area.

DeLouchery was living in Ralph at the time she made the print. The fact that it is difficult to spot the place is a key part of the message she conveys through the print. Ralph, along with many other towns and villages located along Saskatchewan’s rail lines, is representative of a disappearing way of life.

additional resources Domestic Expressionism
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Size: 7393kb
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Ralph
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View of Colour
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Things to Think About
    • In the days of the horse-drawn wagon seven miles was about the maximum a farmer could travel to deliver grain, and hope to get home the same day. Consequently, Saskatchewan and the other Prairie provinces are dotted with communities (or place names where settlements used to be) along the railway tracks seven miles apart. As Prairie farms consolidated and trucks replaced wagons, many communities like Ralph have disappeared. Think about places near your home that have shrunk or disappeared for economic or other reasons. Why do communities die away?
    Horse drawn wagon
  • Open a new browser window and visit Toporama, a topographic map service of Natural Resources Canada. Zero in on the more detailed maps for the area where you live. Does this give you a different perspective on where you live?
Advanced Activity

Some information on the history of early mapping in Saskatchewan

Map
  • Here are two maps from 1920 and 1922, that show how quickly Saskatchewan was filled with settlements.
  • Here is a website showing how Saskatchewan’s provincial boundaries were developed. It contains information from the Atlas of Saskatchewan including information about different settlements.
  • Here is some early exploration information about John Palliser and the Palliser Triangle from the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan:
Online Activity
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Find Ralph Saskatchewan by using Google Maps. Compare the view to Delouchey’s print.  Find the following features:

  • Highway #39
  • a river system
  • a large slough
  • farm fields
  • any other evidence of human activity

 

Studio Activity

If you fly over Saskatchewan in an airplane, you can see exactly what Marsha Delouchery was inspired by.

Her screen  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  shows an image that appears to be almost like a patchwork quilt, each of the spaces like pieces of fabric in different  shadesDark value of a colour made by adding black.  of yellow, green and brown stitched together.

This is what much of southern Saskatchewan looks like from the air. What features (such as roads or waterways) can you identify in the picture?

Maps as art

Pictorial maps are an old tradition. They are more visual art than accurate  scaleThe proportion between two sets of dimensions.  maps. Modern picture maps are often used in tourist brochures. They range from elaborate three-dimensional landscapes to decorated maps, illustrated with small drawings. Picture maps sometimes focus on particular themes such as locations of famous buildings, where important events took place. Others will feature the  faunaThe animals of any given area or epoch; as, the fauna of America; fossil fauna; recent fauna. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  and  floraThe complete system of vegetable species growing without cultivation in a given locality, region, or period; a list or description of, or treatise on, such plants. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of the area or nature walks.

  • Watch the below animated picture map of the discovery and growth of America from YouTube:

 

Create your own picture map

  • Decide what kind of pictorial map you will make. The  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  matter can include anything you want. For example, you might create a map focusing on hockey (hockey stars, famous games or historical facts), animals or birds, geological facts, a family map showing people, historical facts about immigration or favourite family pastimes, recipes, or holiday locations.
  • Use an atlas and find a basic map of Saskatchewan.
  • Use this basic map as a guide. You can retrace the larger copy to eliminate details you do not want, but keep the main features such as lakes, major cities or towns, or none of these.
  • Look for information on your topic (for example, find out where Saskatchewan’s most well-known athletes or artists were born, or where the best fishing happens, or places with unusual place names, etc.) Use libraries, the Saskatchewan Libraries website, or the Saskatchewan Archives.
  • You might decide to include three-dimensional features using cut out/stand up figures and you can include extra decorative features on the outer edges as shown in the Saskatchewan map of 1955.  You can watch the animated picture map of the discovery and growth of America again (see below) as an example.

  • Colour or paint your map. If you are making a historical map you might want to give it an antique look instead of painting it.  To create an antique-looking surface, here are some instructions:
  • Crumple your paper and smooth it out on a cookie sheet.
  • Pour 1/4 cup of warm coffee over the paper and use a damp sponge to spread it around on the paper.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of instant coffee granules onto the paper and wait for them to dissolve.
  • Use a paper towel to blot the paper and let it dry.
Science Behind the Art

By:  Troy Zimmer, J.D. Mollard and Associates Limited

Marsha DeLouchery’s print, Ralph, Saskatchewan, depicts a scene familiar to anyone who has traveled across the prairies of Saskatchewan by air.  The land is divided into a regular  gridA framework or pattern of criss-crossed or parallel lines. A lattice. When criss-crossed, lines are conventionally horizontal and vertical; and when lines are diagonal, they are usually at right angles to each other. Typically graph paper is a grid of lines. Things which are often gridded: tiles, tessellations, wire screens, chess boards, maps, graphs, charts, calendars, and modern street plans. (Artlex.com)  of farm fields, bounded by gravel roads, broken only by the occasional lake, river or highway.  It looks, as my wife once commented, like an enormous patchwork quilt, reminiscent of the ones her grandmother used to make, only vast, stretching across the viewer’s sight from horizon to horizon.  Each square is a near-perfect one mile by one mile in size, its borders aligned precisely with the cardinal points of north, south, east and west.  The squares are the result of the Dominion Land Survey (DLS), which gave early settlers the ability to precisely locate their entitled property in an otherwise featureless landscape.  They also provided the framework upon which virtually all other land infrastructure in Saskatchewan is based.  The location of the tiny community of Ralph is described in the DLS system as ‘the northwest quarter of Section 22, Township 7, Range 13, west of the 2nd Meridian.’ 

Ralph sits near the southern shoreline of Glacial Lake Regina, a large proglacial lake formed 10,000 years ago during the retreat of the last great continental ice sheet.  As the ice melted back, water pooled in the lower land at the glacier’s front.  For nearly a thousand years the waters of Glacial Lake Regina covered an expanse of land from Regina south to Weyburn, until it drained in a spectacular, catastrophic discharge that some geologists believe may have taken only a month to complete.  The massive outflow of water poured through the Souris Valley, a low, broad  spillwayA sluiceway or passage for superfluous water in a reservoir, to prevent too great pressure on the dam. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  channel scarcely three miles west of Ralph.  If you look closely at Delouchery’s Ralph, Saskatchewan, you’ll notice what appears to be a small stream winding along the bottom of the scene; the stream is a tributary channel flowing west into the Souris just off the edge of the print.

The long, narrow line streaking across the  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  is Provincial Highway #39, running parallel to the historic Soo Railway.  Now a Canadian Pacific Railway line, this stretch of the ‘old Soo’ still carries carloads of grain south from the farms of southern Saskatchewan to the giant lake ports of Chicago, Illinois, much as it did a hundred years ago.  At one time this line also provided a passenger link between Chicago and Moose Jaw, where travelers could transfer to the famous Canadian Pacific intercontinental trains running east-west between Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia.  It was this passenger link to Chicago that lent in part an air of intrigue and adventure to the colourful and sometimes rowdy little community of Moose Jaw.  Local lore claims that in the 1920s the infamous Chicago gangster Al Capone and his accomplices would occasionally hop the Soo train to Moose Jaw when things ‘got too hot’ in his hometown.  No one knows if Capone really did travel to Moose Jaw on the Soo rail line but if he did he would have passed through the siding of Ralph, and perhaps gazed out the window at the same checkerboard  patternRepeating lines, colours or shapes within a design.  of idyllic fields that inspired Marsha DeLouchery to create this scene.

Marsha DeLouchery

Marsha DeLouchery’s painting, Ralph, Saskatchewan, 1980.  From Mackenzie Art Gallery online collections website

 

Marsha DeLouchery 2

2007 multi-resolution fusion satellite image of the same area depicted in the painting.  SPOT-5 10m panchromatic image, acquired 01 September 2007, fused with natural  colourProduced by light of various wavelengths, and when light strikes an object and reflects back to the eyes. Colour is an element of art with three properties: (1) hue or tint, the colour name, e.g., red, yellow, blue, etc.: (2) intensity, the purity and strength of a colour, e.g., bright red or dull red; and (3) value, the lightness or darkness of a colour. When the spectrum is organized as a color wheel, the colours are divided into groups called primary, secondary and intermediate (or tertiary) colours; analogous and complementary, and also as warm and cool colours. Colours can be objectively described as saturated, clear, cool, warm, deep, subdued, grayed, tawny, mat, glossy, monochrome, multicolored, particolored, variegated, or polychromed. Some words used to describe colours are more subjective (subject to personal opinion or taste), such as: exciting, sweet, saccharine, brash, garish, ugly, beautiful, cute, fashionable, pretty, and sublime. Sometimes people speak of colours when they are actually refering to pigments, what they are made of (various natural or synthetic substances), their relative permanence, etc. (Artlex.com)  composite Landsat 7 ETM 30m  colourProduced by light of various wavelengths, and when light strikes an object and reflects back to the eyes. Colour is an element of art with three properties: (1) hue or tint, the colour name, e.g., red, yellow, blue, etc.: (2) intensity, the purity and strength of a colour, e.g., bright red or dull red; and (3) value, the lightness or darkness of a colour. When the spectrum is organized as a color wheel, the colours are divided into groups called primary, secondary and intermediate (or tertiary) colours; analogous and complementary, and also as warm and cool colours. Colours can be objectively described as saturated, clear, cool, warm, deep, subdued, grayed, tawny, mat, glossy, monochrome, multicolored, particolored, variegated, or polychromed. Some words used to describe colours are more subjective (subject to personal opinion or taste), such as: exciting, sweet, saccharine, brash, garish, ugly, beautiful, cute, fashionable, pretty, and sublime. Sometimes people speak of colours when they are actually refering to pigments, what they are made of (various natural or synthetic substances), their relative permanence, etc. (Artlex.com)  imagery, acquired 26 July 2000.  Satellite  imageryAn image is a picture, idea, or impression of a person, thing, or idea; or a mental picture of a person, thing, or idea. The word imagery refers to a group or body of related images. (Artlex.com)  courtesy Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) GeoBase initiative.

References

Author unknown.  Marsha DeLouchery.  Artist Profile.  Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, undated.

Author unknown.  Marsha DeLouchery.  Artist Profile.  Saskatchewan Arts Board, undated.

Author unknown.  ‘Ralph, Saskatchewan.’  note from Vision ’80: A Festival; Exhibition of Original Prints by Saskatchewan Artists.  Saskatchewan Arts Board exhibition, Regina, Saskatchewan, 1980.

Perry, Meta.  ‘Various artists featured at exhibitions.’  Regina Leader-Post, September 22, 1979.

Walters, Louise.  Saskatoon Women Artists.  Exhibition catalogue.  Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1975.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning