“I was suddenly very, very proud to live in Manitoba, to be Canadian and to have had the privilege of standing in such a precious place. We are so lucky to be here and I don’t think people realize it.”
– Kal Barteski
Kal Barteski is an internationally celebrated artist. She is a TEDx speaker, a published author, and winner of a Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She was featured on Animal Planet/Discovery and recently named as CBC Manitoba’s Future 40 leaders under 40.
She has a deep love for polar bears, ice and winter. She sells her paintings internationally and uses her signature brush script style.
A visit to Churchill, when Animal Planet took her up to Hudson’s Bay as part of its TV series Wild Obsession she discovered that there are 1200 polar bears and about 900 people. Barteski was asked to paint a large mural outside the Polar Bear holding facility. Kal Barteski fell in love with the polar bear world – the bears, the people, the complicated politics – and turned her focus to polar bears. She returns to Churchill every year. Currently with over 100 paintings in her collection of polar bears – her work is often described as “powerful and emotional” and “a voice for bears.”
Barteski has always been an animal lover and started drawing and painting wildlife when she was eight years old, painting under her dining room table. Polar bears did not become significant to her until 1996 when she moved to Winnipeg and met the lone polar bear at Assiniboine Park Zoo. While studying Advertising Art at Red River College, one of her assignments was to go to the zoo and draw animals. Barteski found herself by the polar bear because the polar bear sat very, very still and that definitely made drawing easier. The polar bear was named was Debbie. Having never seen a live polar bear before, Barteski said she felt drawn to her, she states “I felt like I watched her so often I got to know her. I visited her regularly for many years, but her effect would take me more than a decade to realize. And now, twenty years after first laying eyes on her I have completed over 150 polar bear paintings, given a polar bear TEDx talk, been a part of a polar bear documentary called Wild Obsession, participated in numerous polar bear projects, made a lot of polar bear friends and most definitely consider polar bears to be my spirit animal.” In her TEDx talk Barrteski states a group of polar bears is called a “celebration.”