A Virtual Companion to the Exhibition
All Things Useful and Artistic
Applied Arts at Mount Allison University 1906-1960
Explore the gallery installation
Look in depth at objects in the exhibition
Learn about the history of the Applied Arts program
Learn about the exhibition
Learn about the exhibition
A Conversation with the Curator, Jane Tisdale
Why were you interested in organizing an exhibition about the applied arts program?
I’ve always been interested in the early history of the program. The exhibition provided an opportunity to build on existing research and to display the work created by Applied Arts students at Mount Allison— work that gallery visitors today had never seen before.
When did the research begin, and were there any challenges throughout the process?
Research for the exhibition began about 5 years ago. Minimal documentation existed about the activities and work of the Applied Arts students. Interviews with former students and their families gave us important research material that couldn’t be found anywhere else.
What discoveries were made during the planning of the exhibition?
Visits with former students and their families were memorable because we were seeing their work for the first time. Material for the exhibition quite literally unfolded with each visit and each phone call. It was exciting and challenging to build the exhibition piece by piece and artist by artist.
What relation do the objects on display have to the Owens Art Gallery?
During the last 15 years of the Applied Arts program (1945-60), classes were all held in the basement of the gallery while Fine Arts classes remained on the main floor. The Applied Arts students rarely went upstairs except to assemble their graduation exhibits at the end of their final year. It seemed fitting, so many years later, that these same items were displayed here again—but this time within a featured exhibition that occupied the entire main floor of the gallery.
What was it like to work with such a large group of artists?
Communication with the artists and their families throughout the process made this exhibition a ‘group effort’. Everyone had something important to contribute and to lend for the exhibition. The exhibition had personal significance for all the artists and their families. I was very honored to work with them on this project.
How did graduates of the program use their degrees after graduation?
The Applied Arts students followed many different paths after graduation. Several of them returned as teachers to the Applied Arts program at Mount Allison and others went to teach at different schools. Many combined their craft skills with occupational therapy work in hospitals-- with injured soldiers in particular. Some of the graduates worked in interior design or operated their own businesses. No matter what they did after graduation, the students continued throughout their lives to be influenced by their Applied Arts training and experience.
Owens Art Gallery | Mount Allison University | Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada
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A project funded by the Sheila Hugh MacKay Foundation