North Okanagan artist who paints upside down shifts focus amid pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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North Okanagan artist who paints upside down shifts focus amid pandemic

FILE PHOTO - Amanda Shatzko in her studio.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Amanda Shatzko

A North Okanagan artist who combines painting with Cirque du Soleil-style performances is focusing on public art and collaboration amid the pandemic.

Amanda Shatzko’s art has been seen around the world, including on a billboard in Times Square. She’s an athlete who has been featured in films like American Pie, was a Canadian delegate for the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy at the United Nations in 2017 and she’s currently the vice-chair of the Regional District of the North Okanagan.

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She’s also quite adept at blending her art and athletic work, believing in polymath theory, a person whose expertise spans a significant number of subject areas.

Growing up in Vernon, at five she became involved in dance and gymnastics and competed internationally in gymnastics until she was finished high school. Then she went off to Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and got picked up by Cirque du Soleil choreographers for her side job, attending events for both performances in the air and to live paint art on the ground.

It became natural to put the two mediums together, the 34-year-old said. “I see it as a challenge, always having to change perspectives of being right-side-up and upside down.”

All of her live performances were cancelled due to the pandemic, so she pivoted to focus on collaboration and the creation of public art in the Okanagan. 

“There have been some things that have gone on Zoom, but there’s sort of Zoom fatigue, so where I’m focusing right now is creating creative spaces for the public to explore,” Shatzko said.

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COVID-19 has created challenges for artists but Shatzko said it’s a good opportunity to learn and develop new skills.

“I’m taking a look at how to build more equitable and diverse and inclusive projects that reflect the community and so I’m just exploring what does that look like?”

She's searching for ways to collaborate and for ways she can help other artists exhibit or install their work, she said.

“During the pandemic, it’s become even more prominent because we are all so isolated, so how can we work with other people? Because we’re social beings."

At the regional district table as the only millennial, with her experience wearing so many different hats, “I find that sitting at the decision-making table, people are often trained with a linear decision-making (mind)... In my case I think with a divergent mindset (to come up with creative solutions to problems.)”

Like with the BX Ranchlands. The ranchlands were bought by the regional district in 2016 and were sold to Electoral Areas B and C in 2021 to keep it in public hands. Initial plans were to sell off sections of the land after creating a perimeter trail through a portion of the land but Shatzko said there’s potential to use that land to address food security and for public education. She is the director of Electoral Area C.

When it comes to her artwork, she said one of her projects that reflects her style was created in collaboration with Vernon Secondary School students in 2015. It’s a transitional panel project, seen inside the school, that was created using artifacts provided from students and teachers.

“Environmental projects are important too, so this was sort of exploring the environmental side of upcycling," she said, adding the project also aimed to capture the essence of who the students and staff were and they’re experience going through school and "trying to capture that artwork that’s not just speaking to the current time but hopefully what it feels like to go through school in general,” she said.

To learn more about Shatzko and her artwork, visit her website.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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