Rig Art: “The Old and the New”

Artist: Sasa Boric
Year: 2004  |  Size: 36″ x 24″  |  Medium: oil on canvas

The Old and the New depicts a wooden pumpjack juxtaposed against a modern one that we see daily in many fields throughout Alberta. It represents the contrast between tradition and progress, a time travel, a recognition of the oil industry as an integral part of our society.


The very first time I saw the Rockies, I was stunned by their magnitude. Coming from a crowded European city, I was fascinated with the vastness of the great Canadian landscape. In the face of so powerful, longstanding mountain chains, man truly feels his own insignificance.

Then my first visit to Fort McMurray left me in awe of a different kind of landscape, the one created by man. This time I was captivated by the magnitude of human endeavour. The massive machinery working with the precision of a swiss clock; each screw and bolt functioning as part of a whole. This was equally as impressive as the work of nature. Then, my husband, who works in the Fort Mac area, brought home a sample of oil sand one day.

As kids, we collected sand on the seashore, kept it in little jars. This sand with a few broken seashells, a prized childhood possession, more valuable than anything…it was an attempt to capture nature. Years later, I was staring at little vials of oil sand that carried something so captivating: tiny pieces of Earth, perhaps ancient, rudimentary life, so precious, like a relived childhood dream.

It was the birth of an idea: combining oil paint with oil sand (see detail above). Pouring, mixing, spreading, scratching…all following the accidental patterns created by the paint flow. For me, the process is equally important as the end-product. I enjoy creating, getting my hands dirty. When I paint rigs and pumpjacks, I feel like I’m constructing, building, recreating. I apply some unconventional materials: dirt, sand and rust, thus producing a genuine industrial landscape. The image is displaced, floating in the air like a mirage, a distant object in space, distorted, yet so real that I can almost smell the oil fumes.


Sasa Boric was born and raised in Serbia, where she received a degree in Fine Arts. After moving to Canada, she obtained an MFA (2000) and an undergraduate degree in Education (2010) at the University of Calgary. Over the years Sasa has taught art classes for children, youth and adults, worked as an artist-in-residence in schools, created art programs for home schooled students and art therapies for children with special needs. Her experience includes teaching visual fundamentals and art theory, multimedia and communication technology and stage arts and crafts.

Sasa is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships and has participated in group and solo exhibitions in Alberta. Considering her art to be eclectic, Sara enjoys working in mixed media and experimenting with a variety of materials and techniques.

She is also the owner of Art on the Lake School and Studio in Chestermere, and participates in many community events. You can view Sasa’s work and find more info about her school at: www.artonthelake.net.