Yes, we did announce that Spotlight on 40 Years: Artworks from the Canada Council Art Bank would be an online exhibition showcasing 40 works for the 40th anniversary of the Canada Council Art Bank. How did we end up with 41? Believe me, we didn’t lie about our age — the Art Bank is indeed 40 – but sometimes art is bigger than life, it defies our views, our curatorial intentions, and imposes itself … art tells us stories and sets us on a different path.
Amy and Laura
Everything started when Art Bank consultant Amy Jenkins saw Becoming Laura (2012), by Meryl McMaster, in a show at the Harbourfront Centre. Not even printed at the time of planning our exhibition, the work seemed to have been created for it. It speaks to the idea of Canadian identity and national pride, it keeps the viewer looking for further clues as to what’s going on. It also offers a hint of tongue-in-cheek humour: Meryl McMaster, a Plains Cree artist who professes to be a distant cousin of Laura Secord!
Travel back in time
The works in the exhibition travel back through four decades of contemporary Canadian art. They also invite us to step forward into our Canadianness.
As with Becoming Laura, Maple Leaf Forever II (1972) by Joyce Wieland, with those luscious lips singing our patriotic song, also speaks about identity. As does Wei (2001), the oriental jacket decorated with over 2,300 maple leaf lapel pins, by Pao Quang Yeh.
Clues engage us in a playful way to revisit icons, history, places.
I awoke to find my spirit had returned (1999) by Rosalie Favell has the artist playing the role of Dorothy, Louis Riel playing the Wizard of Oz, and other characters, including a Hudson Bay blanket almost playing a central role. FASTWÜRMS’ Chew or Die (1987) and John Hartman’s The North Shore (1988) keep their viewers guessing as well.
Come and see for yourself at the Art Bank
We’ve just unveiled Becoming Laura in the online exhibition, and are opening our doors to the public during this weekend’s Culture Days. Come and see for yourself how art is part of our life, and how your national collection (the largest collection of contemporary Canadian art) brings art to your life. Learn how the collection is accessible to the public through our various programs.
(Spotlight on 40 Years will be on view at the Canada Council Art Bank, 921 St. Laurent Blvd, Ottawa on September 28 (6-8 pm), September 29 (12-4pm) and September 30 (12-4pm). Visit the online exhibition at: www.artbank.ca)