Artist Rebecca Foon Invites Moment of Reflection with Visual Installation “Kenauk Lightboxes”
“Conservation means protecting pristine areas around the world and what’s left of them, but it’s also a spiritual thing for me. We’ve seen how important nature is for our psyches and sense of interconnection.”
Rebecca Foon recalls an ‘aha’ moment when she came across a large, lit-up photograph during a recent visit to Berlin. The scale and glow of the image’s size and resolution created a uniquely immersive experience.
“This is exactly what I want to be doing, but with a conservation focus,” Foon told Age of Union.
Her recent installation, Kenauk Lightboxes, features two large-scale, illuminated images of the Kenauk territory — a Canadian hotspot of biodiversity located between Montreal and Ottawa and supported with a $3 million gift from Age of Union.
Foon sees the lightboxes as a call to protect the last of the untouched, pristine areas around the world. She also highlights the juxtaposition of installing these images in an architectural gallery space, encouraging us to reflect on the current state of the natural world and our actions as a community on this planet.
“I want [the viewer] to feel the beauty of the area, but also [experience] a moment of reflection, in terms of being alive on planet earth — how magical it is, and how confusing it is [in its current state].”
There are only five major wildlife corridors in eastern Canada, and Kenauk’s is one of the most significant. Situated between Montreal and Ottawa, Kenauk’s 26,300-hectare territory houses exceptional biodiversity. Its old-growth forests and wetland areas are home to 75 at-risk species and several unique animal and plant types, such as the four-toed salamander, the walking fern, the eastern whip-poor-will, the wood thrush, channel darters, pearl shell mussels, and the largest black maple stand listed in Quebec.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Kenauk Institute (KI) have partnered in an extraordinary effort to protect this ecologically rich area — and Age of Union is supporting the project with a $3 million pledge over the next three years. The goal is to ensure the long-term preservation of land and create Quebec’s largest open-air lab devoted to studying the impacts of climate change.
Foon, raised in Vancouver but now residing in Montreal and New York, is a cellist, vocalist, composer, and environmental activist. She co-founded Pathways to Paris and Junglekeepers, with the former bringing musicians and activists together to turn the Paris Agreement into action and the latter — one of Age of Union’s ten environmental conservation projects — working on protecting the Peruvian Amazon.
She began making lightboxes as a natural extension of her artistic and musical practices with climate activism. In 2022, she accompanied Age of Union to Kenauk to document the beauty of the conservation area. “It was very harmonious,” says Foon of the experience. “There was a natural connection with Age of Union.”
Kenauk Lightboxes is currently featured as part of the Earth Centre’s Fall/Winter 2022-2023 season. To see Foon’s work, alongside other environmental exhibitions, join us at the Earth Centre’s next Open House on Feb. 18 from 1 to 6 p.m. Details coming soon.