Tag Archives: winnipeg art gallery

Prayer

prayer installationA new exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery by artist James Webb is called Prayer.  The installation is an ongoing project that began in Cape Town South Africa in 2000.  The 10th version currently at the Winnipeg Art Gallery was created in the city of Chicago.  The exhibit consists of dozens and dozens of recordings of prayers spoken by people of many different religious affiliations. There are prayers said by Catholics, Lutherans,  Occultists, Episcopalians, Hindus, Bahai, Presbyterians, Mormons and Methodists.  There are prayers spoken in Buddhist temples, Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques and evangelical churches. 

james webb prayerVisitors can take off their shoes and walk down the red carpet listening to the prayers arising from all the different speakers or they can sit down in front of one speaker and listen to the variety of prayers emanating from it.

prayer james webbJames Webb is a musician and visual artist from South Africa and has a degree in comparative religions.  As he moves his project to one city after another Webb creates a collaborative community of people from many different faiths and provides a sort of spiritual and religious landscape of that city.  As I experienced the Chicago version of Prayer I thought how interesting it would be to create a similar installation with people from the city of Winnipeg.  

Prayer will be in Winnipeg till May.  Be sure to stop in and experience it on your next visit to the Winnipeg Art Gallery. 

Other posts………..

A Prayer For a Golf Tournament

An Artist’s Prayer

A Prayer for the New Year

Two Artists on Prayer

 

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Generation Lockdown

The other day I walked into a Winnipeg kindergarten class just as the teacher was instructing the four and five-year-olds in her room about how they should behave during the lockdown drill that was going to happen in a few minutes.  I thought how sad it was that such little children needed to be educated in the steps to take should a dangerous person with deadly intent enter their school building. How did it make them feel ? 

On Wednesday night we went to the Winnipeg Art Gallery for a special showing of the Cannes Lions International Festival film that features all the award-winning advertisements for the past year. One that really made an impression on me was a public service announcement by the organization March For Our Lives.

A school girl instructs warehouse workers in active shooter protocol

It shows a schoolgirl named Kayleigh giving adults in a warehouse work area a training session on how to survive an active shooter event. The employees in the advertisement at first seem a bit amused that a young girl has come to talk to them. But as she solemnly instructs the adults in how to recognize different kinds of gunfire sounds, how to hide from a shooter, how to barricade doorways and ultimately escape by breaking windows, the faces of the people around her register shock and sadness. You can tell they are thinking, “What kind of world do we live in that a little girl needs to know these things?”

The advertisement titled Generation Lockdown reminds viewers that lockdown drills have become commonplace in schools ever since the Columbine High School shooting twenty years ago.

The ad ends by asking people to learn more about a variety of gun control measures being proposed in the United States that would prevent dangerous people from getting guns.  The organization that made the ad says 95% of school kids beginning at age five are now trained in what to do in active shooter situations because they have to be prepared for them to happen at any time. 

You can watch Generation Lockdown here.

You can find out when you can see the Cannes Lions film at the Winnipeg Art Gallery here. 

Other posts……..

Duck and Cover

Best of the Cannes Lions

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The Scream

This painting by Kent Monkman currently on exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is one that rivets most visitors. It is called The Scream and I’ve witnessed more than a few tears from people viewing it. It shows indigenous children torn away from their parents by RCMP officers, nuns and priests. They are being taken to residential schools. A few of the children are trying to escape or run away. Some of the fathers and men of the community have been knocked unconscious and the women and children are terrified about what is happening. 

Children at the Brandon Residential School

Kent has dedicated the painting to his grandmother Elizabeth Monkman who was a survivor of the Brandon Residential School here in Manitoba. He says it was only on her deathbed that his grandmother spoke about the suffering and abuse she had experienced at the school. 

Edvard Munch The Scream 1893

The title of the painting references Edvard Munch the Norwegian artist who created an iconic work also called The Scream.

An art critic writing in Muskrat Magazine says the woman at the centre of the painting

Dorthea Lange’s Migrant Mother -1936

is reminiscent of Dorthea Lange’s famous Migrant Mother photo.

Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens- 1611

Monkman’s The Scream is part of the permanent collection of the Denver Art Museum. They purchased it in 2017 and in their description of the painting they mention that Kent Monkman was inspired by a work by Peter Paul Rubens called Massacre of the Innocents which depicts the Biblical account of all the baby boys in Bethlehem being killed on the orders of King Herod. 

 Girls sewing at the St. Bernard Residential School in Grouard Alberta between 1925 and 1935- photo from the Smithsonian Institute – Kent Monkman has included artifacts from this school in his exhibit

In his notes about The Scream Kent talks about how the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 informed and enlightened many Canadians who didn’t really understand the devastation wrought by residential schools. Thousands of children never returned home from the schools because they were dead or missing. Thousands were sexually and physically abused, some starved, most forced into free labour and some used in medical experiments. Children were required to sever their ties with their language and culture during their time in the schools.

Kent says the trauma the schools inflicted continues to impact indigenous families today. He asks questions about whether our country can heal, reconcile and offer restitution for the thousands of lives shattered by the residential school system. 

The Scoop by Kent Monkman 2018

On his Facebook page Kent displays another similar painting called The Scoop.   The Sixties Scoop is a name given to the practice in Canada from the 1950s to 1980s  of taking, or “scooping up”, Indigenous children from their families and communities for placement in foster or adoptive homes. 

In a video, on the Winnipeg Art Gallery website, Kent Monkman says that sometimes art needs to take us to dark and challenging places. His painting The Scream does exactly that. 

The Scream is only one of the many thought-provoking works in the current Kent Monkman exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery called Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience.  You don’t want to miss it. 

Other posts………..

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Warli Art- Kids Love It and You Will Too!

Gauri Gill is a photographer whose work is currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in their Vision Exchange exhibit.

In 2013 Gill visited the community of Ganjad in the north-western part of India. She was doing art with the school children there. An artist in Ganjad named Rajesh Vangad told Gauri Gill about traditional Warli painting, an art form that may have started more than 5000 years ago. The paintings were traditionally done only with white pigment made by grinding rice into a powder and mixing it with water. The women of the tribe created the artwork on the walls of their adobe houses. The paintings showed the social life and the daily routines of the Warli tribe. Warli art uses mainly circles, triangles, and squares.

After learning about Warli art from Rajesh Vangad, Gauri Gill decided to photograph him at different places in the village and invite him to draw Warli art on her photos.  Here Rajesh stands in front of the community school. His Warli art covers the photo.

A closer look at the Warli drawings Rajesh Vangad did reveal that he depicted children in the classroom and on the grounds of the school participating in all kinds of activities.  

Children writing the alphabet

Children in the science lab

Children on computers

Children doing math

Children on swings

Children having lunch

The school-age visitors I take on tours of the Winnipeg Art Gallery love looking for all these different scenes in the artwork. I have included only a few of the dozens of small scenes in the piece entitled School from Gill and Vangad’s  The Flight series.  

I always invite the children to use the Warli technique to make drawings of their own depicting themselves doing something they enjoy. Their artwork is simply delightful.

This girl drew herself painting a picture

Here another WAG visitor showed himself playing basketball

This girl loves golf

This one loves ballet

And here is a soccer player

Warli art is for everyone and the children love its simplicity and the ease with which they can create portraits with white chalk on black construction paper. 

There are several other pieces by Rajesh Vangad and Gauri Gill on display in the Vision Exchange Exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Why not come and see them and then try making some Warli art of your own?  

Other posts……….

Don’t Forget About Us

Carpet Conversation

Sports Equipment and Salt

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A Dream Day At Work

Rosa Parks by Tony Scherman

“Look at her face. See the way the artist has painted all that darkness around her but her face is in the light?” A member of my tour group at the Winnipeg Art Gallery was responding to a painting of civil rights icon Rosa Parks.  Another tour member added, “Knowing what a good person she was, I’d say the light is coming from within, from inside her.”
The two people having that conversation live on the streets of Winnipeg.  1Just City is an organization that runs three drop-in centers for folks as their website says, “who have no place to call home.”  Earlier this week they brought a group of their regular visitors to spend an afternoon at the art gallery. It was such a pleasure showing them around.  They were so genuinely excited about the art.  They had so many questions! They were so ready to offer opinions and share their ideas.

The group was drawn to this sculpture on our rooftop called The Poet by sculptor Ossip Zadkine.  One woman pointed out the way the face looked much like something Picasso would have made, and a man in the group asked all kinds of questions about the Russian artist who’d created it.  

Woman and Polar Bear by Johnny Kakutuk

Another woman was looking at this sculpture and I asked if she would like me to tell her the legend the piece was based on. Everyone listened intently as I related the story of an elderly woman who cares for an orphaned polar bear that becomes like a son to her. Their story takes a sad turn and they are separated but eventually reunite. There were several moist eyes in the group when I was done.

Androgeny by Norval Morrisseau

We spent a long time looking at this piece by Norval Morrisseau. His life story was of great interest to my group.

the-dakota-boat-by-frank-lynn

The Dakota Boat by W. Frank Lynn shows indigenous people observing the arrival of a boat carrying immigrants at the Upper Fort Garry site in Winnipeg

One woman was intrigued by this artwork and asked me all about it.

I loved taking the group around the art gallery. They were delighted to be there and were genuinely curious about everything. I told them I hoped they would come back. Their visit capped off one of those dream days at my job.  

In the morning I’d given a tour to a group of high school students from a rural community about a 90-minute drive from Winnipeg.  Their classes were officially over but they’d showed up at school early that morning to make the trip into the city. None of them had ever been to the Winnipeg Art Gallery before.  They were so excited about all of the art.  Once we’d gotten started they basically guided the tour, moving from one artwork to another that piqued their interest and asking me questions about it and making comments. They were so intelligent and knowledgeable and supportive of one another.  I thought, “our world is in good hands if these kinds of young people are going to lead us in the future.”  

I always enjoy my job at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, but some days are a little more challenging than others.  This week I had one of those days when everything was a pure joy from start to finish. It was a dream day at work. 

Other posts………

Nostalgic Tour

On the Evening News

Siloam Mission at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

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Sports Equipment and Salt

This half circle of salt that features marble sports equipment is part of an installation by artist Sarindar Dhaliwal in the Vision Exchange exhibit currently on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The cricket bat, field hockey stick, and badminton racket represent sports that were brought to India in their modern form by British colonizers although a game very similar to field hockey was played in the 17th century in the Punjab state of India called khido khundi.  Khido referred to the woolen ball and khundi to the stick.  

A team from India wins the Under 19 World Cricket Championships in 2018

India has become a formidable force in the world of cricket.  India’s elite took up the sport in order to build relationships with the British and its popularity spread to the general population.

India’s national women’s cricket team

This led the way for the creation of some superstar cricketers and India’s international success in the sport.

Why is the sports equipment lying on a bed of salt? In 1882 India was under British rule and the British passed a Salt Act which banned Indians from collecting or selling salt.  Salt had to be bought from the British and they added a heavy tax to each purchase.

Gandhi was joined by thousands on his Salt March.

In 1930 to protest the salt tax Indian leader Gandhi led a salt march.  Thousands of people walked down to the sea to collect salt from the salt flats there.

Gandhi bends down to pick up a lump of salt

Gandhi was arrested after he bent down to pick up a small lump of salt.  Gandhi’s actions led to peaceful protest demonstrations all over India. The British police force responded and in the end, some 60,000 protesters were arrested. Although India would not gain independence from the British until 1947 the salt march and the civil disobedience it inspired gave Gandhi a seat at the table in the discussions about India’s future.

Salt and sports equipment. Two symbols of India’s past as a colony of the British but also symbols of a future when India would control its own natural resources and make its own name in the sports world. 

Other posts……..

A Different Kind of Snow Angel

Hyphenated Lives

India Assaults the Senses

The Heros Walk

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What’s An Amauti?

woman combing her hair -unidentified artist 1970-1979 winnipeg art gallery

One of the Inuit sculptures that recently went on display in the Skylight area of the Winnipeg Art Gallery is this piece by an unidentified artist.  It shows a woman combing her hair.  The woman is wearing a traditional parka called an amautik or amauti especially designed for carrying children under the age of two. The amauti has a large comfortable pouch or amaut on the back just below the hood for babies.

Mother and Child by Sheokjuk-Oqutaq- Winnipeg Art Gallery collection

The amaut keeps the baby warm and safe from frostbite, the wind and the cold and also helps the mother and child to bond. The mother can even bring the baby from back to front for breastfeeding without exposing it to the elements. During the Our Land exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2016 and 2017, we had these beautiful amautiks on display. The one on the left is made of caribou and the one on the right of cotton decorated with beads. Can you even imagine how skilled a seamstress you would have to be to create one of these?

four generations pitaloosie sailaOne of my favorite pieces in the Winnipeg Art Gallery collection is this lithograph called Four Generations by Pitaloosie Saila which shows a family of Inuit women in their parkas.  Can you see the baby girl tucked into her mother’s amaut on the far right? She’s the fourth generation. 

Mother and Child by Tivi Ilisituk- Winnipeg Art Gallery collection

The word amauti is borrowed from Inuktituk.  The amauti has a long Inuit history going back centuries.

woman-with-amautik-and-stroller-wiki-commons.png

Woman with Amautik and Stroller in Cape Dorset by Ansgar Walk

It is still being used today.

babies-in-amautis.png

Traditional Amauti- photograph by Jean Saint Martin- Clyde River Nunavut – 2004

Other posts……..

Inuit Fashion Show

A Very Personal Story

Looking Cool the Inuit Way

 

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