Elephant Art at the Edmonton Airport

Lucy the elephant, elephant art, Edmonton airport

Airport art critics agree: this is the work of one painterly pachyderm. Photo: Bob Keelaghan

Pachyderm versus Pollack: Lucy the Elephant’s paintings
welcome visitors flying into Alberta’s capital

How many times have you heard an amateur art critic preach, between hits of Budweiser, about how “an elephant could do a better job” when it comes to abstract art? Next time you have a stopover at the Edmonton International Airport, you have the chance to judge for yourself. Tucked away near Gate 18 of the departure concourse is a permanent installation of paintings by Lucy The Elephant.

The Sri Lankan elephant has been the artist in residence at the Edmonton Valley Zoo since 1977. Her keepers encouraged her to pick up the brush in the early 1990s. Since she has nothing but time on her tusks, Lucy has continued working in the acrylic-on-canvass medium ever since. Without a doubt this Elephas maximus has a flare for colour, movement and texture, and her abstract paintings can be purchased from her official representative, the Edmonton Valley Zoo.

Granted that any long wait for a boarding call imparts a certain sense of existential despair, contemplating what an elephant has tried to communicate with the broad strokes of its trunk and paintbrush adds an extra bit of weird wonder to the experience of jet transport. Is she pining for the jungles of Sri Lanka or expressing the bizarre isolation of living in the Edmonton Zoo? You decide as you’re soaring at 30,000 feet. Your opinion is as valid as some Budweiser-swilling armchair art critic.

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