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Back to the Present
prairie landscape, everyday objects, place, symbols, personal symbols, social issues, rural life, rural prairie life, acrylic painting, urbanization, globalization, contemporary life, contemporary society, nature and the environment, humour in art, sad realities, landscape, mixed media, rural prairie life, symbols, environment, place,

In his paintings and drawings, Gorenko typically portrays a near-empty prairie landscape filled with a few ordinary everyday objects or symbols. He uses his simplified  styleA way of doing something. Use of materials, methods of working, design qualities and choice of subject matter reflect the style of the individual, culture, movement, or time period.  to create readily accessible narratives that comment on social issues in rural prairie life. He shows how urbanization and globalization are rapidly creeping into every aspect of  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (  life and he reminds us how out of touch we are with nature and our environment. With his keen sense of humour, his works often awaken the viewer to the somewhat absurd and sometimes sad realities of the world we live in.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Does this title, Back to the Present, remind you of a popular movie?  Could there be a connection? Is Gorenko referring to time and change? Does it suggest a sense of the vast universe and our place within it?
  • prairie Gorenko has clearly been affected by the place where he was brought up, as he incorporates the landscape of the open prairie in much of his imagery. What else is he concerned with in this work?
  • Do you know how to read the stars? What is Ursa Minor? Why does the artist have an extra star with Ursa minor constellation? Study the night sky and learn more about the constellations, planets and the universe.
  • How can the sky be used as a guide in navigation? How do we navigate today?
  • Are we losing our connection to the world around us? Discuss this with others.
Studio Activity
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Images from youth

In Back to the Present, Richard Gorenko presents us with an image from his youth and life.

  • Find an object from your youth and use it as a starting point to make a visual comment on the topic of change.



  • Make a drawing of the night.
  • Include the stars and some silhouetted objects from the environment.
  • Find out more about ways that artists have represented the night sky and use these references as inspiration for your artwork.

Author unknown. The Art Bank visits the Prairies. News Releases, Canada Council, September 4-28, 2001. Retrieved from the Internet on July 28, 2008 from:

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