Local Students Then and Now: the Buchanan Collection seen through Emerging Artists
May 1, 2016 - June 12, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, May 6 at 5 PM
Reception sponsored by Pratt & Whitney
William Austin, Amy Dalton, Dylan Dobbie, Vanessa Eagle Bear, Shona Fitz-Gerald Laing, Alison Grigg, Megan Morman, Arhea Robinson, Sheila Shaw, Kelsey Tuck, Martina Visser, and Grace Wirzba.
This exhibition brings emerging contemporary artists into dialogue with the historic collections of Donald W. Buchanan. Students from the BFA and MFA Art program at the University of Lethbridge selected an item from this collection that engages with their practices and interests, developing a conversation with Buchanan’s eclectic collections of art and artifacts. Their responses typically took one of two approaches: an engagement with the aesthetic qualities of the artwork or artifact; or an investigation of the historic context to critically analyse contemporary society. The artists in this exhibition are influenced by dramatic shifts in society and art. From the development of abstract imagery, to globalization, to the exploration of gender and identity issues, the juxtapositions in Then and Now highlight both change and continuity. In the production of thoughtful contemporary art, the students have initiated a conversation about the wider art practices and history represented within the Buchanan Collection. Through their practice these historical works are brought into the present, reintroducing us to diverse Canadian and international art and artifacts and addressing the importance of the individual collection as a legacy in our community.
The Buchanan Gift was donated to Lethbridge College in 1958 by brothers Donald and Hugh Buchanan in memory of their parents. Following Donald W. Buchanan’s untimely death in 1966, an additional donation, The Buchanan Bequest, was made to the City of Lethbridge. It currently resides in the care of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. With a lifelong interest and career in the arts, Donald Buchanan became a leading figure in Canadian art society, influencing national art discourse through his work as an arts administrator at Canadian Art Magazine, the National Gallery of Canada, and Expo ’67; and through his personal artistic practice, and private collecting. His eclectic tastes encompassed large groups of artists, explored many genres, and crossed national borders. His collection became an avenue to explore the many different directions of art practices of the 20th century. Although the Bequest includes works by well-known artists – like those associated with the Group of Seven – their presence does not determine the collection’s importance, rather, its appeal lies in its diversity.
Then and Now demonstrates the multifaceted nature of interpretation through a unique gathering of people and their ideas, which facilitate extraordinary conversations. Bringing works from the past into dialogue with the present, Then and Now encourages reflection on where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.
Then and Now is organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in collaboration with the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Fine Arts’ Art History/Museum Studies program and the Lethbridge College. Curated by Jessica Fisher and Courteny Green. Funding assistance from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the City of Lethbridge. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
From May 2 to June 10 the Southern Alberta Art Gallery is delighted to offer free Gallery School for Aa’sitapiwa: All the Young People, Art’s Alive and Well in the Schools, and Then & Now: The Buchanan Collection Seen through Emerging Artists. Bring your class or community group to SAAG for a tour and hands-on art activity, and experience first hand the rich creativity of artists in our community and region. To book your tour contact Taylor Crozon, Public Engagement Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Book early, as tour spots fill up quickly.
Reading and Viewing Guide
Art’s Alive and Well in the Schools, Aa’sitapiwa, and Then and Now showcase the work of student artists in Lethbridge and southern Alberta. Drawing on themes of identity, Canadian art history, and Truth and Reconciliation these exhibitions provide an occasion to reflect on the role of youth and art in shaping a bright future for all Canadians.
The following readings and videos touch on some of these topics and enhance the conversations surrounding our current exhibition. Get the list here.