*Nathalia Marquis, Missoula, Montana Member Since January 2009 Artist Statement I was born on the beautiful Northern California Coast, with access to the melodic crashing surf as well as the majestic giant Redwoods. I was also fortunate enough to spend much of my youth, surrounded by the rugged Rocky Mountains of Montana in the Smith River Valley. I was exposed to it's varied wildlife, such as Antelope, Deer, Elk, Moose, Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Buffalo, Mountain Lions, Badgers, Wolverines, Wolves, Coyotes, Foxes, and many other species too numerous to mention. Montana also has a vast array of beautiful birds, such as the Bald Eagle, Golden Eagles, Hawks, Cranes, Meadowlarks, Blue Birds, Cormorants, Ravens Crows and again, a very wide variety of our avian community. The only critters I dread, yet still marvel at, are the poisonous Rattlesnakes, the Black Widow and the ever increasing Hobo Spiders. Having grown up with a Game Warden father, I was introduced to numerous wild animals on a regular basis. I was blessed to be able to look a few Grizzly and Black Bear in the eyes and survive (Thankfully, they were in cages awaiting transfer to other areas though). I was also permitted to care for many orphaned wild baby animals until they were old enough to be returned to the wild. All of these things combined gave me a deep appreciation for the great outdoors, which later influenced me to become an avid rock and alpine climber. To me, climbing is the most exhilarating activity and experience in the world. To stand at the top of a pristine mountain peak and see the panoramic view below, is nothing less than heaven on earth. It is a breath taking moment to be able to stand on top of highest places on earth and marvel at the splendor in which we live.. Unfortunately, I was so into the actual climbing, that I never thought to bring a camera with me, which has been my only regret. I guess I took these things for granted as we often do in our youth, believing I would always be able to climb, however; that was not to be. In my late forties, I experienced a catastrophic injury that grounded me and limited my activities to simple day hikes. My extensive climbing days were over within seconds and now all I have left are my memories. It saddens me greatly that I do not have many photographs of the most exhilarating adventures in my entire life. I can see other's photos, however;it is not the same as if I had a photo journal of my own travels and experiences, If anyone is reading this, please do not make the same mistake I did, for photographs enable us to relive all of our adventures when we are no longer able to be there in person. Now my camera, like a beloved companion, is with me on all of my outings. Altough I share these images with others, they are more for my own pleasure and benefit than anyone else's, they are more for my own pleasure and benefit than anyone else's. If they happen to bring a moment of pleasure to someone else, that is a wonderful bonus as well. Go Griz !!!