Chris' Pack, Stampede Trail
2009, Oil on Canvas
24 X 36 inches, 61 X 91 cm.
Chris leaves Russell Fritz, revisits Wayne Westerberg in South Dakota, where he leaves the leather belt and some other treasured possessions for safekeeping. He then makes his way up to Alaska. It takes him 10 days of hitchhiking. After catching a lift from Jim Gallien in Fairbanks, south to the edge of Denali National Park, Chris sets off into the wild. The Stampede Trail winds for over twenty miles off the George Parks highway. It is April 28th, 1992. His pack, his constant companion, shows context and the scale of his surroundings.
In 1993, Jon Krakauer wrote an article for Outside Magazine about Christopher McCandless, a young man whose body was discovered in an abandoned Fairbanks City Bus on the Stampede Trail in Alaska. Krakauer then spent 2 years researching all aspects of the event resulting in his novel 'Into the Wild' published in 1996. The story later became the subject of the movie of the same name, directed by Sean Penn and released in 2007. Since then, there has been a remarkable interest in Chris' story.
2008, Oil on Canvas
36 X 24 inches, 91 X 61 cm.
I hiked to Bus 142 in 2008 with the help of a good friend. It was a true adventure. We rafted across the river that trapped Chris in 1992 and prevented him from hiking out. It is rough country up there and, fortunately, we were prepared. I arrived on the anniversary of Chris's passing, August 18, 1992. I gathered wild blueberries and set them by a plaque that his family had installed in the bus. Chris's final words in his journal were "beautiful blueberries".
Heather read Krakauer's book and was moved by Chris' life and travels - as many other young people have been. However, Heather decided it was important to her to pay respect to Chris' journey and memory. She contacted Chris' parents and was given special access to his photographs and writings. She also made her own pilgrimage to the bus in Alaska to immerse herself in the world that Chris experienced.
Heather has created a body of work based on those photos and her trip which form the basis for our exhibition.
For the first time, hundreds of Christopher's photographs and some of his writings will be available in a new book and DVD entitled 'Back to the Wild: The Photographs and Writings of Christopher McCandless'. Heather is honoured to have contributed the use of a painting, and some of the text to the book and DVD, and narration to the DVD.
Camp on the Sea of Cortez
2010, Oil on Canvas
20 X 24 inches, 51 X 61 cm.
Chris finally makes it to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, and paddles the shoreline; fishing, camping and exploring. Here he sets up camp on top of a cliff for a few days before a sandstorm drives him into a nearby cave.
2010, Oil on Canvas
16X 20 inches, 41 X 51 cm.
Chris makes his way up to Seattle and travels east into Montana in the autumn of 1990. He befriends Wayne Westerberg there, and Wayne hires him to help at his grain elevator in the tiny town of Carthage, South Dakota. The shadow of a huge combine can been seen behind Chris as they are out working in the fields harvesting wheat.