Wanda Whaley creates art that transcends. It transcends history, technology, geography, sociology, ecology, even religion. But it remains firmly anchored in spirituality. "(My art) goes back to the first artists in the world," she says. A world we've all become disconnected from. "We all used to be natives and we all used to be connected." And that connection includes the earth - the land, the water, the forest, the sky. Every Wanda Whaley painting is made from those elements, and nothing more, other than her spirit and even that, she believes was given to her by the earth. "I've been elected to be used by the buffalo spirit," she says. And she uses it to guide us back. " We haven't lost what we had once. It's still there."
"The bought paint doesn't represent what I'm doing. I'll never go back to a man-made material again And that goes for her 'canvas' as well. Wanda paints on four different types of media - slate, clay, birch bark and buffalo hide. Recently, she's added three-dimensional art to her portfolio; renditions of horses and bison incorporated into weathered wood, bringing the spirit connection to the mantels of the homes of those who appreciate this stunning, unique art.
Her earlier paintings were done on slate that came from the roof of the Banff Springs Hotel. Now, she's working her way through a collection of 150 year-old slate from Delaware, wearing the history of the industrial revolution proudly in its natural patina. Stained by coal smoke and the industrial effluent of the steel mills, washed by acid rain, the slate has not just character, but the guideposts for Wanda's eyes and hands. "The slates together told me what the painting was going to be," she explains. "I'm just the one who puts the paint on it. Nature does everything else."
Often, she looks at a finished painting and sees another distinct image speaking through the slate, a voice from another dimension and another time. The same is true of paintings on hide and bark. With bark, every layer takes the paint differently and with hide, the skin and hair adds a separate texture that complements the painting. "I do what it's going to let me do. And that's the way it used to be."