Beth Wilks was born Heidi Elisabeth Lowther, in mid-sixties in Southeast Vancouver, to working-class poet activists. She started drawing regularly at age 3, inspired by frequent trips to the Gulf Islands with her parents. In response to unfolding chaos in the home, she drew with increasing intricacy and concentration, which she noticed eased tension and resulted in positive attention in otherwise volatile situations. Art then became interwoven contextually with developmental trauma as a means of literal/physical survival. Later, her grandmother, an accomplished landscape artist in oils, taught her shading and drawing from observation, but couldn’t lure her away from the pencil. For many turbulent years, Beth made art sporadically, unable to forge a specific identity or evolve creatively, due to persistent poverty and all too frequent moves. Making art to please others, she gave away most of her occasional work. Seeking new directions meant waiting for a backdrop of stability in which to create an authentic voice, a gift which eluded her until midlife.
CreatureStudies, her ongoing look at the sentience of nonhuman animals through unique illustrative portraiture, began in 2013. It evolved from a lifelong fascination with animals as individual beings, allies, protectors, and characters in their own right. With this series, Beth seeks to remind the human viewer of the presence, meaning, complexity, and value of the lives of others, each embodying the pinnacle of evolution, and to evoke their remembrance in the context of global-industrial resource extraction and human-driven climate emergency.