For the love of our bears

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Hailing from Eastern Russia, Irina Kruglyakova is an artist who has been in Canada for almost nine years and focuses her art on portraits and bears.

Having worked as a research assistant for a brown bear project in Russia, Kruglyakova felt the need to share her experiences with others. For her, living in Canada has allowed her to grow as an artist and make connections in the community. She originally came to Waterton and then made the move to Canmore soon after because of her love of the mountains.

Working with bears sparked something inside Kruglyakova. According to her, they gave her knowledge about how bears see the world, their feelings, and how they share them. For this reason, the artist describes her bear paintings as unique in terms of the emotional expressions they have. These experiences taught her about herself.

Kruglyakova felt unable to communicate her experiences through writing, so she began to paint bears. She uses bright colours to represent the feelings she would get when she was with the furry beasts, and is always open to having a conversation with curious art lovers.

Often, she would wake up in the middle of the night feeling ashamed because she felt she couldn’t let it die inside her, and she needed to translate it further. Being in Canmore has created a healthy environment for Kruglyakova to sprout her art. She loves being able to have a sketchbook and draw whatever inspires her but, above all, she loves being able to talk to others about her connection with nature.

In her opinion, people in Canmore are closer to her since they feel closer to the outdoors. Canada offers her more possibilities to be immersed in nature and, therefore feel more inspired.

Her passion for art began when she was three when she finger-painted flowers and butterflies on her window. When her mother caught her, Kruglyakova expected her to be angry. Instead, her mother called the neighbours over to see what her daughter had painted. She then realized she had something special, although she didn’t quite know what it was yet.

As a teen, she began to want to learn more about drawing. Although her settlement didn’t have any art teachers, Kruglyakova took it upon herself to teach herself how to draw by going to the library. She would look at drawings, paintings and sketches of other artists, read books and she slowly developed her own style.

“Art is a great way for me to move my energy,” Kruglyakova said.

“It can’t stay inside me, I need to let it go. Drawing makes me so happy, it’s almost a physical vibration inside myself. Everybody can grow the possibility to feel this way.”

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Rocky Mountain Outlook