Inaugural John and Maggie Mitchell Gallery exhibit features fine art alumni
Carolyn Jervis, curator of the new MacEwan gallery space, The John and Maggie Mitchell Art Gallery, is asked a specific question quite often.
“One of the things that fine art students ask me a lot, and people starting out their careers as artists, is, ‘Where does this [degree] go,’” Jervis says. “Some of these [featured] works are a representation of the diverse ways that artists have gone about their practice.”
The John and Maggie Mitchell Art Gallery, which recently opened in Allard Hall, plans to host roughly five or six exhibitions each year, on top of the April to May grad shows. The first exhibition, Where This Goes, which opened last week, displays works from seven alumni of the Fine Art Program, dating back to the ‘80s when the program was first started.
“You see professors, you see people working at artist-run centres, people who have dedicated their entire lives to their art practice. There’s a lot of different examples of how to be an artist,” Jervis says. “They’ve all started in the same place, although temporally different, but institutionally the same.”
Professional artist Sean Caulfield graduated from the program in ‘88, and has since exhibited around the world, from Norway to Japan. His piece in the exhibition, “The Anatomy Table” is a work of several prints focusing on the effects society has on our environment.
“I think it’s just good for the province and the city,” Caulfield says. “As our province needs to think about diversifying our economy, culture is a great thing.”
Named after John and Maggie Mitchell, two well-known supporters of the arts in Edmonton and MacEwan University, the gallery space is designed to house all forms of art, including digital. A television sits to the left of the gallery space opening, allowing students from Allard Hall to view alumni artist Deirdre Logue’s video piece concerning memory and sound.
Mediums including kinetic, video, mixed media, sculpture, photo and print are featured in the fine art alumni exhibit. Although the pieces come from past alumni, Jervis says it was important that the pieces chosen were all from the last two years, proving the ability of each alumni to continue on with their art past graduation, and in many cases make a career of it.
“There’s a tether between past and present by showing really recent work by people who have been a part of the history of the program.”
There was an audible excitement about infrastructure potential when the MacEwan University Faculty of Arts moved downtown this fall. This is due to the two new theatres, Triffo Theatre (a high-tech proscenium with 415 seats, and a smaller unnamed space still under construction with 215 seats), the Betty Andrews Recital Hall (a more intimate 215 seats), and a professional recording studio with the first university-run Canadian record label, Bent River Records.
Allard Hall was designed to bring MacEwan University and the city into the modern era with top technologies and spaces for creativity to be brought to life.
“It’s good for our spirit as a city,” says Caulfield. “But also the nuts and bolts economy of our city.”
Until Sat., Dec. 16
Where This Goes
John and Maggie Mitchell Gallery