Fragmented Whales by Pnina Gagnon, 2002, mixed media on hand-made paper
Since childhood, I have been aware of nature — its composition and cycles, especially the amazing diversity of life forms. Being concerned by the negative environmental changes happening today, I painted animals and other life forms in black and white and in their real colors. As these magnificent creatures disappear, no one will really know their real color, their unique qualities, and the way they survived till now. The fate of whales is particularly alarming, because in the Saint Laurence River alone, nine Right Whales (of 500 still existing) died recently and no one knows how many other whales are choking in the depths of our vast global ocean.
In my artwork “Reconstructed Whales” (one in a series of three), I engraved the contours of whales, glued other whales, and painted the empty spaces in the shape of whales. I wanted to represent an ocean full of life, as if the whales’ big bodies could project the reflecting lines of light from the surface as they have always done in the past.
In 1977, I wrote the poem “Jews of the Ocean” that was included in Whale Sound: An Anthology Of Poems About Whales And Dolphins edited by Greg Gatenby.