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Katherine Pickering paints on a large scale - photo by Bud Mortenson
Katherine Pickering paints on a large scale - photo by Bud Mortenson

UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 5 | May 4, 2006

Artist Made World Her Classroom on Way to Degrees

By Bud Mortenson

A passion for travel has taken Katherine Pickering around the world. Along the way, she earned UBC degrees in anthropology and fine arts, and found a world of artistic inspiration.

“I don't think I've been in one place for more than two years since I was 18,” says Pickering, a 28-year-old UBC Okanagan Bachelor of Fine Arts student who will graduate in June.

“Travelling as a student wasn't the easiest thing to do educationally, but as far as scholarships and the relationships you make, it was great,” she says. “There were minor challenges, but they're not very great compared to the benefits.”

The day after graduating from high school in Vernon, B.C., Pickering left for India on a year-long Rotary exchange trip. When she returned, she signed up for a fine arts course at Okanagan University College and went on to complete a diploma in fine arts in 2000. Next up was a trip to Mexico on a scholarship to study Spanish for three months.

“I realized I wanted more of an academic slant to my education so I started an anthropology degree — applying to UBC's exchange program,” she says. Pickering spent 2001 studying in New Zealand.

“I loved the landscape and geography of New Zealand. It is so diverse and so incredibly beautiful,” she says. “Geography and the effect that it has on us fascinates me. I've been able to explore this relationship through travelling, and art has become a tool that I can use to ask questions about that relationship.”

She returned to UBC to finish her degree in anthropology, and in 2004 went to Romania to teach third-grade kids — an experience that would bring her back to studying art.

“I thought I'd become a teacher and teach art,” she says. “I came back to school and had some fantastic painting teachers.”

She now paints big canvasses, her work informed by her travels.

“It helped me to understand that there are so many different ways of doing things, our patterns of behavior are so culturally based,” says Pickering. “Art is about opening yourself up to alternative possibilities — this is what it means to think creatively. Travelling makes you more open-minded, which helps a lot in problem-solving, a huge part of making art.”

Pickering has been accepted to study for a master's degree at the University of Alberta. “I'm planning to take that one step at a time,” she says. “I really want to go back to New Zealand — and I think I'll always travel.”

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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