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Creative minds for reimagined times; PG Art Scene lives on – CKPGToday.ca
PG Art Scene
Sep 29, 2020 4:09 PM
PRINCE GEORGE – The arts are alive and well in the Northern Capital according to the Executive Director of the Community Arts Council of Prince George and District.
“In an odd way, demand for art and culture, and hands-on participatory in arts and culture, has never been this high,” stated Sean Farrell, Executive Director fo the Community Arts Council.
Farrell says they’re seeing people buying tickets to events that they never had any intention in attending, but are wanting to support local.
“I think a big goal for Prince George’s thriving arts and culture and entertainment community is to preserve this year,” said Farrell. “There’s a real effort right now, let’s get through to the other side and make sure what we had going into the pandemic and the shutdown gets through to the other side. It’s really interesting to see how many organizations like ours are reimagining how they can do things.”
Artist uncovers ethically dubious history of statue in MacKenzie Art Gallery collection – CBC.ca
The MacKenzie Art Gallery and the University of Regina are taking on a quest to return a statue to its original home in India.
Winnipeg artist Divya Mehra sparked the investigation when she uncovered the story of how the small stone sculpture came to be in the Norman MacKenzie collection.
“Norman McKenzie was known for taking trips across the world and collecting artifacts for his collection,” said John Hampton, interim executive director and CEO of the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina.
In 1913, on a trip down the Ganges River, he saw a sculpture near Benares, India, in a shrine that was actively being used by people in the area.
“He said, ‘I want a statue like that,'” Hampton told CBC’s The Morning Edition. “And he found someone that was willing to get it for him.”
Hampton said this was ethically suspect, but was a common practice at the time.
“You’ll find many similar and maybe even more suspect stories across all [Western institutions], which just brings into question how these collections are built.”
Hampton said Mehra’s findings “set a wave of motion into effect,” including conversations about whether the gallery had a right to show the artifact and who the artifact truly belonged to.
Norman MacKenzie’s collection technically still belongs to the University of Regina, so the MacKenzie Art Gallery started conversations with the university about repatriating the work.
“We’re going to make the offer to the Indian government to return this object,” Hampton said. “There’s no guarantee that they’ll accept that offer. But we’re all in agreement that it’s something that we should be doing.”
The gallery is also taking a closer look at the other 5,000 objects in its collection.
“It’s sparked our interest to make sure that we have a fulsome history of the provenance of all of these objects and to make sure that we know if there are any more,” Hampton said.
‘Dude, that’s a woman’
Divya Mehra has an exhibit at the MacKenzie until January 2021. It examines some of the themes from her research — including a piece inspired by Indiana Jones.
“It’s a sack of sand that weighs the same as the sculpture,” Hampton said. “She wants to swipe that piece from our collection and return it to the proper home and then replace it with a bag of sand as if there’s some booby traps, institutional booby traps that could prevent it.”
The object was previously identified as a statue of Vishnu, but Mehra noticed that didn’t seem right.
“I think her words were, ‘Dude, that’s a woman,'” Hampton said.
Dr. Siddhartha Shah with the Peabody Essex Museum of South Asian Art correctly identified it as an Annapurna, Hindu goddess of food and nourishment.
“We’re a cultural institution and we want to represent those cultures accurately and ethically, and we have to make sure that we have buy-in from the people who produce this work and where it comes from,” Hampton said.
“If we don’t have that right, then we don’t believe that we should be showing it in that light.”
Influential Social Practice Art Fellowship Program Shuts Down Because of Covid-19 – ARTnews
The New York–based nonprofit A Blade of Grass, which has supported the production of socially-engaged artworks through funded fellowships, has announced a significant restructuring of its operations and program as a result of financial challenges precipitated by the pandemic. In a sign of the health crisis’s impact on small arts nonprofits, the organization will end its fellowship program, with the artist fellows named in March 2020 representing the final cohort in the program.
A Blade of Grass also announced that it will lay off its current five-person full-time staff in October and cut salary and benefits for its executive director, Deborah Fisher. During the 2021 fiscal year, the nonprofit will launch a commissioning model through which it will support the creation of a selection of artworks and related public programs. In addition, the nonprofit will organize “listening sessions” with artists to discuss their needs and formulate new modes of meeting them.
The organization’s annual Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art had awarded individual grants of $20,000 to eight artists during each cycle. Those funds went toward the development of artworks that address social, political, and economic issues across different communities.
Since the fellowship program was launched in 2014, it has been considered one of the top initiatives devoted to social practice art, which relies on outreach, conversations, and activism, and often does not take the form of physical objects. Major artists and groups, including Simone Leigh, Black Quantum Futurism, Ras Cutlass, Monica Sheets, Chinatown Art Brigade, Suzanne Lacy, and Dread Scott, have been named A Blade of Grass fellows in the past. The organization’s 2020 cohort includes Cannupa Hanska Luger, Taja Lindley, the theater collective Papel Machete, and others.
“In a moment when socially engaged artists have a particularly critical role to play, we are also being faced with the reality that arts funding, in its current form, is precarious precisely because the arts are perceived as serving too few,” Fisher said in a statement. “While we could not have predicted these circumstances, we have to deal with the moment as it exists and make the difficult but necessary decisions now to establish a more sustainable model that will allow the organization to continue to fulfill its mission and the commitment it made to supporting socially engaged art and the artists who create it.”
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