Roxanne McCaig 

“McCaig encourages artists and people of all walks and all ages to pursue their passion and explore their creativity and to believe that anything is possible.”

“I think I always wanted to go to art class,” says Alberta College of Art +Design (ACAD) Special Events Committee volunteer and supporter Roxanne McCaig.

McCaig is no stranger to the arts world. She’s been a volunteer and supporter of ACAD for a long time and is excited about her continuing involvement with the “art school on the hill”.

She spent her early years in Regina, a city that McCaig describes as consciously following the early modern California design influence of the time. She described the single flat-roofed style of homes, brick entrances with the brick wrapping inside to the fireplace, their teak kitchen and modern Danish furniture, and the treasured abstract paintings her family collected early on by the Regina Five.

Sitting in McCaig’s home, which she shares with husband Mark Bartko and their children, you can see the influence of prairie design and abstract art. McCaig played a significant role in its design alongside architect Marc Boutin. McCaig’s sense of style and connection to the spaces around her, and her awareness of colour, light and texture within those spaces is evident throughout.

She talks about the interplay of the golden bricks and warm cedar used throughout their house as reflecting their surrounding environment—the natural grasslands of the bluff on which their home is situated and autumn’s changing colours visible from their extensive view. Their art collection is based on western Canadian abstract painters beginning with the Regina Five and moving through the years to contemporary abstract artists.

Encouraging those who say they do not understand art, McCaig often advises them to take in everything around them and notice the colours and shapes, textures and how things are balanced. She goes on to explain that there’s a difference between looking and seeing. The former comes naturally, the latter is something we often need to remind ourselves to do.

McCaig firmly believes in nurturing art and music education and encouraging creativity. During a recent holiday with extended family, several of the children joined her on visit to the Tate Modern Gallery in London. It quickly became a creative event as the large art papers provided to kids at the gallery became all manner of things: imaginary megaphones, swords, lightsabers and hats during their trip back to the hotel.

McCaig’s daughter is a young artist who thinks that one day she’d like to go to art school. As a parent, McCaig is encouraging her to pursue what she is passionate about. However, McCaig worries there are many children who may not even be aware of the opportunities available to them to explore their creativity, to discover sculpture or painting or glass blowing.

In the last year she began on her own journey of making art. While she has only recently started, there’s something in the way she lights up while describing her experience thus far that says “Series One” is only the beginning.

When McCaig talks about art and education and ACAD, she does so with a passion and enthusiasm that is clearly hard to contain. She encourages artists and people of all walks and all ages to pursue their passion and explore their creativity and to believe that anything is possible. We believe that Roxanne McCaig is right. 

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