Since graduating in Fine Art from the University of Guelph in 1995, Perry Rath has been pursuing artistic projects in a variety of international venues. His practice has taken a few different directions and series, encompassing installations, objects/artifacts, paintings, printmaking, collaborations and education. These projects have consistently demonstrated an important sensitivity to materials, and explore the interplay of the idea and the materials, where process is as important as intent. In his work, Rath seeks visual and conceptual relationships of memory, renewal, presence/absence, history, time and communication. He is interested in the inherent meanings of objects and images as they relate to their materials, histories, new configurations, the continuum of certainty/uncertainty, and the interpretive impulse of the viewer.

Rath’s distinctive paintings explore the range of patterns that humans rely upon to comprehend inner and outer environments. They suggest echoes of recognizable forms that emerge from layers of texture and colour to create an elemental atmosphere. Drawing on botanical and geological motifs, maps, photographs and cultural iconography, these elements are assembled in a painterly way, juxtaposing geometric divisions with organic undulations. Within these works is a fascination by all that is held within the landscape and the maps of that territory – the stories, the routes, the changes, the tragedies, and the reverence.

Employing and manipulating found and fabricated objects and organic materials, Rath sets up evocative installations which explore the passage of time, in particular the interchange of presence and absence, ephemerality and permanence. Engaging the imagination of the viewer, he arranges objects for unexpected associations and conceptual links provoked with cogent language. Rath’s artwork inquires into the transfiguration of the lifeforce, looking for the vulnerable yet resilient nature of life, and the relationship of sorrow and loss, with wonder and renewal. This ongoing series both emphasizes materials (which include ashes, insects, human teeth, dried chicken feet, potatoes), and also addresses immateriality, as it implies memory and phenomena.

Recent work has included investigations of human movement with dancer and movement artist Miriam Colvin, taking the form of visual and experiential expression and workshop sessions. In addition, Rath’s interests have involved the notion of spark, of how messages are passed along through various peoples’ interpretations. This ongoing series explores the transmission of ideas and images, how things morph and change, but are somehow linked. As well, in collaboration with scholar and author Jane Tolmie, Rath has been producing visual images to accompany text centered on a variable character ‘Vole’ referencing historical and contemporary literary works.

For over 15 years, Rath has exhibited across Canada, and internationally in Australia, India, Germany, Britain, Russia and the US. His artwork attracted the attention of the Governor-General of Canada, and has been published in the survey book “New Art International” from New York. In 2007, he completed a book project with fellow Bulkley Valley poet Sheila Peters, entitled the weather from the west, published by Creekstone Press. Rath was included in the 2010 exhibition-in-print publication Lateral Learning: Collaboration and Community as a Form of Pedagogy, produced by Vantage Art Projects in Vancouver, and curated by Paul Butler. BC Parks has unveiled a new sign in the Driftwood Canyon Revitalization Project featuring one of Rath’s paintings. The installation “I Will Be With You Again (Everything That Fades Away is Beautiful)” has become the cover of the academic text “Laments for the Lost: Grief and Mourning in Medieval Literature”, published by Brepols Press, Brussels. Several musicians have also used Rath's work for their CD art, most recently the ambient electronica musician from Victoria, BC, Maseev. Rath has been interviewed on a number of regional and provincial radio programs.

Born in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, in 1971, Rath was brought up in an artistic and cosmopolitan environment. With parents who travelled internationally, he was exposed to a wide range of cultures and their arts. In addition, his creative side was encouraged by his artist grandfather. Rath has lived near Smithers in the Bulkley Valley in Northern BC since 2002, living rurally with his wife and 2 young sons, amongst chickens, llamas, and a variety of mountain wildlife. Rath has established himself as a prominent artist, educator and advocate in his region.

This site was created by David Green © 2003