Mark Preston art exhibit opens Jan. 19 in the Hilltop Bistro

WHITEHORSE—Mark Preston is a Tlingit visual artist, but his most recent work can almost be read as a poem. 

“It brings in a kind of Japanese philosophy, like a haiku,” said Preston of White Space, the show opening this month at The Hilltop Bistro at Yukon College. “You don’t have to tell the whole story. If you place the words right, then the whole story unveils itself to you.”

White Space consists of a series of small wooden panels. Each is debossed with a single abstract representation of a traditional image. Each is painted pure white. From a distance, the panels look blank. Up close, the carvings become clear.

“I think people are too distracted by textures and colours and sounds,” said Preston. “I take away all the distractions so what you’re left with is a sort of subtle image.”

“You’re not distracted by what I’m trying to project,” he said, noting each piece is intentionally untitled. “I’m trying to bring you back to a quiet, peaceful place … I’m getting as blank as I can without querying the mind.”

The goal, he says, is to focus the viewer on the interplay between light and dark in his work. To look at the way each piece catches and casts light in different ways. Preston say the show plays on the idea of light as knowledge, which can bring the viewer out of darkness and into awareness.

Preston was born in Dawson City. He studied silver carving under Gitksan artist Phil Janzé before going on to learn wood carving. Now a multidisciplinary artist, Preston works across a variety of media, but his pieces are united by a contemporary, minimalist aesthetic.

The opening for White Space takes place at the Bistro on Thursday, January 19, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The artist will be in attendance and there will be hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar.

The exhibit runs until May and all paintings at the Bistro are for sale. Yukon College does not receive a commission on any work sold in the Hilltop Bistro.

The Hilltop Bistro is a fine-dining training restaurant operated by the Food and Beverage Operations and Culinary Arts students at Yukon College. The Bistro is open for lunch Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. from October until May. Reservations can be made by emailing The Bistro operates as a community gallery showcasing a different artist each fall and winter term.