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From Guest Blogger and Art Curator Sofia :
Behind the Scenes of the Museum
How did I decide to make an exhibition on Emily Carr and Irene Hoffar Reid? The idea didn’t come to me in a eureka moment, or in a dream, or on a long walk in the forest, or anything romantic and interesting like that. Instead this exhibition is the result of years of studying, first Gender studies then English literature and now Curatorial studies and Art History. What came out of all those years of reading, writing and discussing was the idea of a show that would deal with the production of (Art) History - why, who and how we remember. I have asked myself the questions; why are certain artists included in the ‘official’ Art History and others not? What are the criteria for being included? And finally, the artists that we do remember, what role do we ascribe to them?
These questions have been floating around in my head for years now and when I started doing research on Emily Carr and Irene Hoffar Reid I realised they could help me answer them! Here we have two artists, one is a BC superstar and the other quite unknown – why? How did Emily Carr become an icon for our region? How come so few people know about Irene Hoffar Reid? To answer my own questions I’ve looked at a number of things: the norms surrounding art and artists in the early twentieth century, the importance of geographical location, the socio-economical situation of Vancouver in the 1930’s and the significance of gender in the writing of histories.
However, I’m afraid I don’t have any answers to my questions. I have ideas and suggestions but memory, history and the act of remembering is more complex than we might think. These things are also not static, they change, expand and contract depending on a number of things. So instead of trying to map out and understand how a certain History has been formed we can look at it closely and see how it is made up of many different stories – some which have been heard more than others.
In the end I hope that the combination of the art by these two artist and archival material (the tale of my scavenger hunt through the local archives needs a blog of its own!) will make the audience ask their own questions and maybe question their own ideas of history.
Sofia's next exhibition is called Shifting Margins: Emily Carr and Irene Hoffar Reid. This project will include works by Carr and Hoffar Reid made in the 1930’s as well as archival material on these artists. The exhibition will take place at the Burnaby Art Gallery, opening on the 30th of May 2013.
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