LONDON, ONT. -- Dorchester, Ont. artist Jade Williamson found purpose for her passion when she began doing portraits of endangered wildlife.

Putting charcoal to canvass, she makes the eyes come alive. “And you want to kind of convey that loneliness or that sadness,” she explained. “You want to reach people with art, right?”

The 21-year-old Western University Fine Arts grad is getting accolades for her images of wildlife on black backrounds. Her work is in conte, or coloured charcoal, and done in free-hand. “‘Cause a lot of my work I use materials or imagery to express what’s threatening them, and what’s putting them at risk.”

Jade Williamson

Dorchester, Ont. artist Jade Williamson seen here on June 21, 2021. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV London)

Among her many subjects are polar bears, shoe bills, and antelopes. Proceeds from her work as the exclusive artist for Polar Nation - a team of local artists and designers - go toward polar bear conservation, and battling climate change.

“I wanted my art to have a purpose. And so in order to do so I was thinking about how I wanted to use my art and bring awareness to endangered species. So I kind of found my place and why I do what I do.”

Williamson plans to attend teachers college at the University of Windsor in the fall. She hopes to continue in professional art, while inspiring youth to put their own passion to purpose.

“I loved that feeling and I want to chase that as well,” she said.