As Long as the River Flows: Responses to the Oil Catastrophe — North Saskatchewan River

Main Gallery, November 24 — January 16, 2020

Lorraine Beardsworth, Laurie Blondeau, Denis Briere, Cliff Burns, Sherron Burns, Bonnie Conly, Ljubica Fa-Hardi, Kelsey Ford , Belinda Harrow , Heather Hochbaum, Clint Hunker, Karlie King, Monique Martin, Jessica Morgun, Judie Relitz, Marilyn Richardson, Diana Roelens, Susan Shantz, Rosemarie Stadnyk, Lynn Strendin, Emily Zdunich

 

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As Long as the River Flows emerged in 2017, when Leah Garven (Chapel Gallery, North Battleford, SK) and Jesse Campbell (Mann Art Gallery) issued a joint call to artists for work that responded to the 2016 Husky oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River.

 

The spill had taken place over the course of two days in July when Husky’s pipeline failed and leaked 225,000 litres of heavy crude oil into the river. It affected around 70,000 residents in communities including North Battleford and Prince Albert, contaminated drinking water, killed wildlife, damaged spawning grounds and impacted a great many Indigenous communities along the river. Politically and economically, the disaster coincided with a severe drop in global oil prices and swelling criticism around the world of the carbon-based economy. The Husky oil spill quickly became a slimy, noxious sign of human contempt for the environment and a wake-up call to the profound value of natural water systems.

 

However, while the oil spill provided the catalyst for the exhibition, this is not protest art. The artistic decisions and curatorial choices made were not intended to be read as clear statements of opposition. Pulling back from the particular issues and debates the catastrophe gave rise to, the work in As Long as the River Flows is better understood as a meditation on the value of Saskatchewan’s waterways, their interconnectedness with myriad other natural systems, the value we place on the environment – and ultimately, ourselves.

 

Popescul and Forsyth: Living in Colour

Project Space, November 24 — January 16, 2020

 

The Mann Art Gallery is delighted to present a selection of sculptures by Dana Popescul (1956 - 2005) and paintings by Mina Forsyth (1920 - 1987) from the Permanent Collection. Although Forsyth and Popescul both play with colour, shape, and space, they approach these things very differently. Forsyth, inspired by landscape and still life, translated these genres into abstract art and expressionist forms. Abstraction, as well as the large scale of her work, were not typical for female artists working in the mid to late 20th century. Forsyth pushed the envelope within her practice, maintaining technical rigour while viewing her subjects with new perspectives. Popescul, however, was inspired by consumerist pop culture and its tendency to create icons of possessions. By adding an extra layer of paint or an image to an already colourful surface, she comments on the absurdity of it all and instead, shifts the viewer’s attention to those immaterial things that take up the most space in life, and which should be the object of affection in our hearts: family, friends, and loved ones. These women’s pieces contrast and compliment one another, pulling viewers into a vibrant exchange. We hope this lively conversation offers a mental and emotional break, however small, from the outside world, and that you leave smiling and feeling a bit lighter.

Mina Forsyth (1920 – 1987) is a celebrated visual artist who achieved recognition throughout Saskatchewan and Canada for her innovative work in various media and for her dedication to education. She attended the University of Manitoba and studied extensively at the Emma Lake School Workshops between 1955 and 1987. Forsyth later taught at the Winnipeg School of Arts, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of British Columbia. Forsyth worked in paint, mixed media, collage, pottery, and printmaking.

 

Dana Popescul (1956 – 2005) is a Regina-born artist who received a B.Ed. from the University of Saskatchewan in 1979, and moved to Prince Albert with her husband and growing family in 1980. Popescul taught at King George School, and with the arrival of a newborn son, decided to make her family a priority. During her artistic career, Popescul painted, altered, and pasted over hundreds of found objects with an underlying, satirical tone that is both humorous and serious.

 

Leah Marie Dorion: Giving Thanks & A Metis New Year

Education Studio, November 24 — January 16, 2020

 

The Mann Art Gallery is pleased to present two series of paintings from the Permanent Collection by Métis artist Leah Marie Dorion. Dorion is well known in Prince Albert and across Saskatchewan as an artist, educator, and author who has illustrated and written several early readers books. These series and three others were part of a generous gift by the artist to the Mann Art Gallery in 2015, and are regularly displayed in the Education Studio. Dorion's delightful work tells stories of the past and present, fosters cultural pride, respect for diversity, and promotes strong literacy skills.

 

Both Giving Thanks and A Métis New Year visually describe key traditions and values held by Métis Elders and families. Dorion’s use of colour, composition, and shape creates playful and eye-catching displays for the viewer. She invites us into the narrative, offering a chance to pause and ponder the important values of joy and stability through themes that include family, food, home, nature, animals, music, dance, and tradition. We hope these paintings bring a smile to your face and help cultivate a heart of gratitude as you’re reminded of all the good and often overlooked things in life; reminders that we all need in these times of anxiety and isolation.

 

Leah Marie Dorion is an interdisciplinary Métis artist raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. A teacher, painter, filmmaker and published writer, Leah views her Métis heritage as providing her with a unique bridge for knowledge between all people. Leah holds a Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Arts degree. She has numerous creative projects to her credit, including academic papers for the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples, books for children, gallery showings of her art works, and numerous video documentaries that showcase Metis culture and history. Leah’s paintings honour the spiritual strength of Aboriginal women and the sacred feminine. Leah believes that women play a key role in passing on vital knowledge for all of humanity which is deeply reflected in her artistic practice. She believes women are the first teachers to the next generation. (Biography from leahdorion.ca)

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The Mann Art Gallery is located on Treaty 6 Territory, the traditional lands of Cree & Dakota Peoples and the homeland of the Métis Nation

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The Mann Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges funding assistance from Diane & Roger Mann, City of Prince Albert, SK Arts, Saskatchewan Lotteries and SaskCulture Inc., Community Initiatives Fund, Canada Council for the Arts, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and artsvest - Business/Arts