The WildArt Mongolia Expedition group art exhibition was held at the Union of Mongolian Artists Gallery in Ulaanbaatar from June 27 to July 8, 2014.
THE WILDART MONGOLIA EXPEDITION WAS A SUCCESS AND THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME!
THE EXPEDITION TEAM FOR 2013 WAS:
Two American artists, two Mongol artists, one Mongol photographer, two drivers, a guide and a cook formed the Expedition team.
The Mongol painters were:
Both are very accomplished and established artists. Tugsoyun is the recipient of the “Polar Star”, the most important award given to artists by the Mongolian government. She and Magvandorj are members of the prestigious Union of Mongolian Artists and have exhibited their work both in Mongolia and internationally. I’ve created a page for each of them, with a short biography and examples of their work. Just click on their names to go to their page.
The photographer was Odna. She specializes in wildlife and nature images and has traveled to North America, South America, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, and Europe. She currently resides in America, but goes home to Mongolia every year.
American artist Sharon K. Schafer is a fellow Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists and also a wildlife biologist. Sharon has traveled extensively to places like Antarctica and Kenya.
Susan Fox was the Expedition leader. She had previously traveled to Mongolia seven times, spending much of her time in the countryside. She conceived the WildArt Mongolia Expedition two years ago as way to contribute to conservation and create an opportunity to travel and collaborate with Mongol artists.
THE WILDART MONGOLIA EXPEDITION took place from August 23 to September 10, 2013. It was a great art adventure with a conservation connection! American and Mongol artists joined in a first time collaboration of art and conservation. We created both paintings and field sketches during the trip and took thousands of photographs. The Expedition is an initiative of Art Partnerships for Mongolian Conservation, Susan Fox’s non-profit association.
American and Mongolian artists made a true nomadic journey to the remote western Gobi, where they explored:
–The Gobi Altai Mountains, land of the snow leopard, where we drove through spectacular habitat. Participating artists personally experienced the snow leopard’s world, what it looks like, what it felt like and also learned what some of the current conservation challenges are for this charismatic big cat.
.-The Dzungarian Gobi, where the last wild tahki (Przewalski’s horse) was seen in 1969 and where they were re-introduced to Takhiin Tal, located in the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, in the early 1990s. Along with takhi, we also saw and photographed the endangered khulan or Mongolian wild ass. We were hosted by the Director of Takhiin Tal, Ouynsaikhan Ganbaatar, who gave us a thorough and informative briefing.
–Sharga, home to the most critically endangered antelope in the world, the saiga. We saw and photographed over 40 saiga in two days. We met with the WWF Coordinator of the Saiga Ranger Network, Batsaikhan Baljinnyam, who also gave us a great briefing and then led us on a saiga-spotting tour of the local area.
En route between these special places we saw wonderful things every day since, in the Land of Blue Skies, more than in most places, the journey really is the destination.
THE ART MISSION
American and Mongolian artists collaborated and learned from each other, painting and sketchiing our way across the Gobi.
The purpose of the field collaboration was to share information and ideas. My goals were to offer information on how to gather reference for wildlife/nature art and how to use art to support conservation. This included demonstrating how American artists carry out fieldwork, including the use of camera equipment and sketch journals.
THE CONSERVATION CONNECTION
The Mongols have a deeply embedded land ethic going back over 1000 years (the toes of the traditional herder’s boots are upturned so as not to scuff the earth) and there is substantial grassroots support for conservation. The arrival of extremely large mining projects, upon which Mongolia’s economic future depends, is a source of both hope and great concern.
I hope is that this cross-culture collaboration will provide one way, through the arts, of showing how special the land and wildlife of Mongolia are. We visited three areas with endangered species and habitats at risk. Artists can bring a very special focus and attention to conservation and environmental issues. The WildArt Mongolia Expeditions are my way of doing this in one particular part of the world.
Expedition arrangements were made and staff provided by Nomadic Journeys, with whom I have traveled for six out of my seven trips to Mongolia. We traveled in rugged go-anywhere Russian vans, tent camping for 18 nights under millions of stars, surrounded by peace and quiet that’s almost impossible to find anymore.
The Expedition tent, housing the kitchen and dining area, along with work and relaxation space, was a traditional Mongol summer tent called a “maikhan”.