The artist uses natural materials to create art

Botanical fish sculptures by Rita Basom are on display at the Community Center for Fine Arts this summer. Combining his love of gardening and creating art, Basom has created a school of whimsical fish.

ROCK SPRINGS — The Community Fine Arts Center exhibits a collection of sculptural fish created by former Wyoming Arts Council director Rita Basom. Thirteen individual designs are included in the “Botanical Fish Sculptures” and are created with natural organic materials. The exhibition is visible in the window at the entrance to the library during the summer.

“As a retired ‘recovering arts administrator’, I started doing things I didn’t have time for when I was working full time and raising a family,” said Basom. “I planted an outdoor garden for the first time, then did some much needed pruning of the plants in my conservatory where I ended up with long sprigs of vines. It seemed such a shame to throw them away, so I started experimenting to see what I could get out of it.

“When the flowers started to bloom outdoors, I incorporated them into my designs. Through trial and error, I learned which flowers, stems, and other elements would hold up as they dried. It was fun to find and to include additional elements of nature in my works.

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Basom featured two of her pieces in a Senior Art Exhibit at the Laramie County Library and placed third in the Sculpture category. Encouraged by that show’s juror and her friends, Basom started creating more designs. She joined the Cheyenne Artist Guild, which gave her the opportunity to exhibit pieces in their gallery and gain encouragement from other guild members. She also participated in a group exhibition at the Clay Paper Scissors Gallery in Cheyenne and sold several of these unique fish.

“I don’t consider myself a professional artist,” Basom said. “For me, it’s just a way of being creative and using things from nature in a different way. I never know what a piece will look like until it’s finished. Every piece “evolves” as different materials are added in. I’ve tried doing other things, but I always come back to the fancy fish, because that medium just seems to lead me there.

For more information, call or visit the Community Fine Arts Center, 400 C Street in Rock Springs, 307-362-6212. The opening hours of the center are Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.

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