Description : One of the most vibrant artists of her generation, Pegi Nicol MacLeod was a charismatic bohemian whose expressive images of the contemporary world were an essential component of Canadian modernism during the 1930s and 1940s. In Pegi by Herself, the first full-length biography of Nicol MacLeod, Laura Brandon draws on the artist's remarkable autobiographical paintings and extraordinarily vivid letters. Remembered as much for her colourful life, love affairs, and significant friendships with Vincent Massey, Norman Bethune, Frank Scott, and Graham Spry as for her artistic achievement, Nicol MacLeod exhibited successfully and received significant commissions from the National Gallery of Canada to paint the wartime women's services. She was honoured there with a memorial exhibition following her early death in 1949. Lavishly illustrated, Pegi by Herself accompanies Pegi Nicol MacLeod: A Life in Art, a touring retrospective exhibition of the artist's work that opens at the Carleton University Art Gallery in February 2005, and the premiere of an NFB film biography.
Description : Notions of identity have long structured women’s art. Dynamics of race, class, and gender have shaped the production of artworks and oriented their subsequent reassessments. Arguably, this is especially true of art by women, and of the socially engaged criticism that addresses it. If identity has been a problem in women’s art, however, is more identity the solution? In this study of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art in Canada, Kristina Huneault offers a meditation on the strictures of identity and an exploration of forces that unsettle and realign the self. Looking closely at individual artists and works, Huneault combines formal analysis with archival research and philosophical inquiry, building nuanced readings of objects that range from the canonical to the largely unknown. Whether in miniature portraits or genre paintings, botanical drawings or baskets, women artists reckoned with constraints that limited understandings of themselves and others. They also forged creative alternatives. At times identity features in women’s artistic work as a failed project; at other times it marks a boundary beyond which they were able to expand, explore, and exult. Bringing together settler and indigenous forms of cultural expression and foregrounding the importance of colonialism within the development of art in Canada, I’m Not Myself at All observes and reactivates historical art by women and prompts readers to consider what a less restrictive conceptualization of selfhood might bring to current patterns of cultural analysis.
Description : The history of women and art in Canada has often been celebrated as a story of progress from amateur to professional practice. Rethinking Professionalism challenges this narrative by questioning the assumptions that underlie the category of artistic professionalism, a construct as influential for artistic practice as it has been for art historical understanding. Through a series of in-depth studies, contributors examine changes to the infrastructure of the art world that resulted from a powerful discourse of professionalization that emerged in the late- nineteenth century. While many women embraced this new model, others fell by the wayside, barred from professional status by virtue of their class, their ethnicity, or the very nature of the artworks they produced. The richly illustrated essays in this collection depict the changing nature of the professional paradigm as it was experienced by women painters, photographers, craftspeople, architects, curators, gallery directors, and art teachers. In so doing, they demonstrate the ongoing power of feminist art history to disrupt patterns of thought that have become naturalized and, accordingly, invisible. Going beyond the narratives of recovery or exclusion that the category of professionalism has traditionally encouraged, Rethinking Professionalism explores the very consequences of telling the history of women's art in Canada through that lens. Contributors include Annmarie Adams (McGill University), Alena Buis (Queen's University), Sherry Farrell Racette (University of Manitoba), Cynthia Hammond (Concordia University), Kristina Huneault (Concordia University), Loren Lerner (Concordia University), Lianne McTavish (University of Alberta), Kirk Niergarth (Mount Royal University), Mary O'Connor (McMaster University), Sandra Paikowsky (Concordia University), Ruth B. Phillips (Carleton University), Jennifer Salahub (Alberta College of Art & Design), and Anne Whitelaw (Concordia University).
Description : “The Dignity of Every Human Being” studies the vibrant New Brunswick artistic community which challenged “the tyranny of the Group of Seven” with socially-engaged realism in the 1930s and 40s. Using extensive archival and documentary research, Kirk Niergarth follows the work of regional artists such as Jack Humphrey and Miller Brittain, writers such as P.K. Page, and crafts workers such as Kjeld and Erica Deichmann. The book charts the rise and fall of “social modernism” in the Maritimes and the style’s deep engagement with the social and economic issues of the Great Depression and the Popular Front. Connecting local, national, and international cultural developments, Niergarth’s study documents the attempts of Depression-era artists to question conventional ideas about the nature of art, the social function of artists, and the institutions of Canadian culture. “The Dignity of Every Human Being” records an important and previously unexplored moment in Canadian cultural history.
Description : This is a truly encyclopedic survey of artists’ responses - both official and personal - to the horrors of war. 'Art and War' reveals the sheer diversity of artists’ portrayals of this most devastating aspect of the human condition - from the ‘heroic’ paintings of Benjamin West and John Singer Sargent to brutal and iconic works by artists from Goya to Picasso, and the equally oppositional work of Leon Golub, Nancy Spero and others who reacted with fury to the Vietnam War. Laura Brandon pays particular attention to work produced in response to World War I and World War II, as well as to more recent art and memorial work by artists as diverse as Barbara Kruger, Alfredo Jar and Maya Lin. She looks finally to the reactions of contemporary artists such as Langlands and Bell to the US invasion in 2001 of Afghanistan and the ‘War on Terror’.
Description : As the centenary of the Great War approaches, citizens worldwide are reflecting on the history, trauma, and losses of a war-torn twentieth century. It is in remembering past wars that we are at once confronted with the profound horror and suffering of armed conflict and the increasing elusiveness of peace. The contributors to Bearing Witness do not presume to resolve these troubling questions, but provoke new kinds of reflection. They explore literature, the arts, history, language, and popular culture to move beyond the language of rhetoric and commemoration provided by politicians and the military. Adding nuance to discussions of war and peace, this collection probes the understanding and insight created in the works of musicians, dramatists, poets, painters, photographers, and novelists, to provide a complex view of the ways in which war is waged, witnessed, and remembered. A compelling and informative collection, Bearing Witness sheds new light on the impact of war and the power of suffering, heroism and memory, to expose the human roots of violence and compassion. Contributors include Heribert Adam (Simon Fraser University), Laura Brandon (Carleton University), Mireille Calle-Gruber (Université La Sorbonne Nouvelle), Janet Danielson (Simon Fraser University), Sandra Djwa (emeritus, Simon Fraser University), Alan Filewod (University of Guelph), Sherrill Grace (University of British Columbia), Patrick Imbert (University of Ottawa), Tiffany Johnstone (PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia), Martin Löschnigg (Graz University), Lauren Lydic (PhD, University of Toronto), Conny Steenman Marcusse (Netherlands), Jonathan Vance (University of Western Ontario), Aritha van Herk (University of Calgary), Peter C. van Wyck (Concordia University), Christl Verduyn (Mount Allison University), and Anne Wheeler (filmmaker).