THE TREE PLANTERS

RITA LEISTNER

THE TREE PLANTERS EXHIBITION at the STEPHEN BULGER GALLERY

Exhibition Dates: October 21 – November 18, 2017

Reception for the Artist: Saturday, October 21, 6-9pm

RENOWNED CANADIAN ARTIST & DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER, RITA LEISTNER, TO PREMIERE PHOTOGRAPHIC SERIES, “THE TREE PLANTERS”, AT PRESTIGIOUS STEPHEN BULGER GALLERY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Internationally known Canadian artist Rita Leistner will debut her newest series, “The Tree Planters” a dramatic, in-depth look at the culture of reforestation in Canada – on Saturday October 21st from 6PM to 9PM at the Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto. “The Tree Planters” exhibition will include 19 large-scale colour photographs inspired by classical paintings and dioramas from the Museum of Natural History in New York. Leistner uses  high-resolution digital cameras and a battery-powered electronic flash under extreme conditions to render the sheer physicality of tree planting and present tree planters heroically in a live-action context. “The Tree Planters” exhibition provides a critical look into the human ability to co-operate with nature.

I felt great urgency to begin this project as I knew being in my 50’s, I would not have many years left where I could physically keep up with the athleticism required for tree planting. It’s a back-breaking dance of bodies, shovels and dirt, and I hope the messages of living in the moment and the power of perseverance are understood through my photos. I have great hope for the future and believe this series will promote the care for the world that all our futures depend on – one tree at a time,” states Leistner when describing her work.

The exhibition also includes a short video projection produced by Leistner that demonstrates how these artworks were made, featuring unique behind-the-scenes footage of tree planters at work and the photographer accompanied by her assistant in the Canadian wilderness. “The Tree Planters” exhibition will run from October 21st through November 18th, 2017 at the Stephen Bulger Gallery located at 1356 Dundas Street West. Regular gallery hours of operation are Tuesday – Saturday from 11am until 6pm.

“I have always said that my experience in the strenuous, remote job of tree planting in Canada prepared me for the role of documenting communities in extreme conditions,” states Leistner. “After so many years shooting conflict and war, I wanted to create photographs that were not about death, despair, hatred, loss or violence.”

Long before she was known for her work as a conflict photographer, Leistner planted over half a million trees between 1983 and 1992. She perceives this series as an homage to all Canadian tree planters: past, present and future. While each photograph features an individual tree planter, the series as a whole is meant to represent universal hope and belief in the future. Leistner has recognized a gap in Canada’s rich tradition of landscape photography and painting where there is very little that depicts or celebrates the role of men and women working the land. Leistner’s “The Tree Planters” aims to elevate tree planters to the realm of art, epic, and visual history.

“The Tree Planters” photographs were created in British Columbia in 2016 and 2017 while Leistner was “embedded” with the planting camps of Coast Range Contracting. Modern Canadian tree planting is only in its third generation yet it is considered a rite of passage and an indelible part of Canada’s national identity. Tree planting is not only changing the geographic landscape of Canada but also the cultural mindset of Canada’s youth and through them the wider population, making it an essential contributor to Canada’s role as the world leader in sustainable forest management.