A new bilingual exhibition from the Owens Art Gallery at Mount Allison University is bringing art and community together — virtually. YOU ARE HERE: Seeing Sackville through the Owens Art Gallery Collection links pieces from the Gallery’s art collection with local Sackville landmarks.
Bridging online and physical space, You Are Here encompasses historical and contemporary perspectives, encouraging participants to engage with their immediate surroundings. The exhibition sees approximately 40 pieces from the Gallery’s permanent collection displayed on an interactive map highlighting the locations depicted in the works.
“The idea for a virtual exhibition of this nature had been thought about for a while by our team at the Gallery, but really came to life over our quarantine period,” says Owens Art Gallery Director and Curator Emily Falvey. “We asked ourselves, how do we continue to bring art to the community, when our physical space isn’t available?”
You Are Here was created by members of the Owens Art Gallery team including Falvey; Lucy MacDonald, Curator of Education and Community Outreach; Rachel Thornton, Curator of Digital Engagement; and Jane Tisdale, Fine Art Conservator – all Mount Allison alumni as well as Mount Allison student and Colville House Summer Intern Megan Glauser.
“This has been one of my favourite projects to work on at the Owens, as a curator but also as a Mount Allison alumna,” says Falvey. “Seeing art and place come together virtually and celebrating and thinking deeply about our connections to where we live is really important.”
You Are Here is one of many digital projects the Owens team has undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Gallery, along with most of the University campus, closed its doors to the public in March, staff quickly began daily online art activities, posts, and videos for all ages through their website and social media platforms. These included daily drawing prompts, the virtual continuation of the popular Make Something Sunday Family Program, and sharing works from the Gallery’s collection digitally.
The latest exhibition also includes several pieces from renowned Canadian artist and Mount Allison alumnus, the late Alex Colville. Colville (1920-2013) lived for several decades in Sackville, and he often said that his time here allowed him to “know” this place. Many of his most important works are set in recognizable locations in and around the town, including Colville House on the Mount Allison campus, where he and his family lived for many years. Other noted artists include Ted Pulford, Ethel Ogden, Thaddeus Holownia, Garry Neill Kennedy, and Tom Forrestall.
Falvey says the Gallery team hopes to see the project grow over the Fall, with community members submitting their own work online.
“There is going to be teacher resource available shortly to support interdisciplinary lessons around community mapping in the classroom,” she says. “We’re looking forward to seeing art from community members of all ages.”
The project has received support from several contributors including the Canada Council for the Arts, the New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage, and Culture, Canadian Heritage (Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations), the Town of Sackville, and Mount Allison alumni Heather and Ian Bourne.
While the Owens has many online resources and exhibitions available to the public, both the Gallery and Colville House on the Mount Allison University campus remain closed to the public. Visit mta.ca/owens or follow on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram): @owensartgallery