Wednesday, September 03, 2008

EXHIBITION: Beaver Tales: Canadian Art and Design (September 16-December 6)

This show sounds like a must-see for anyone interested in themes of Canuckdom in national craft and design.


Artists, Designers and Craft Makers Encounter

the Legends of Canadian Flora and Fauna:

The Beaver, Maple Leaf, Trillium, Evergreen Tree, Moose and Canada Goose

Tuesday September 16 to Saturday December 6 2008
Toronto Art Centre
15 King’s College Circle

Lecture by curators: The Legends of Canadian Flora and Fauna
Tuesday September 16, 4.30 pm
Click here for flyer

Organized by the University of Toronto Art Centre, Beaver Tales: Canadian Art and Design showcases both emerging and established designers and craft makers, alongside seminal artists who spearheaded the tradition of interpreting and celebrating Canadian countryside and wildlife in their artwork.

Guest curators Rachel Gotlieb and Martha Kelleher selected just over 100 pieces, to illustrate how artists, designers and craft makers, working over the last two centuries, have managed to transcend the pitfalls of kitsch and cliché, while creating universal works drawn from and inspired by motifs of Canadian identity.

The objects they bring together demonstrate the extraordinary ways in which, nature-based signifiers of Canadianness have managed to endure – and despite the enormously diverse ethnic heritage of our by now overwhelmingly urban society.

Politics, commerce and culture are the driving forces behind why both artists and designers employ Canadian symbols. Our understanding of these driving forces is deepened by Gotlieb and Kelleher who ask amongst other questions: How did the beaver or the trillium come to be mythologized as regionalist or national imagery, is globalization and an heightened awareness of environmental issues fueling the contemporary practioners’ interest in exploring local imagery?

Co-curator, Rachel Gotlieb suggests, “We are now witnessing the blossoming of a Canadian Cabin Style. So many contemporary designers and artisans reject ‘cookie-cutter’ aesthetics in favour of local materials and indigenous motifs. In contrast with their predecessors, however, current makers infuse this traditional iconography with whimsy and innovation.

By bringing together works from art, design and craft, often regarded by scholars and curators as distinct and separate disciplines, the curators also address this low art/high art bias by revealing that Canadian symbolic flora and fauna are vital sources of inspiration and discourse across the craft, art and design communities.


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