MAS NKE 2021 - Creative Approaches to Curating During a Pandemic
2020 has been a year to remember. The continued COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us, both personally and professionally, in a myriad of ways. Many museums across the country remained closed out of continuing restrictions or safety concerns, and many more drastically adjusted their hours of operation, programming opportunities, and exhibitions to address public health and safety measures.
For this year’s Network Knowledge Exchange (NKE) we wanted to highlight the ingenuity of a few of our members, in creating exhibitions that worked around these restrictions and have created interesting opportunities for wider community engagement.
The Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum (SACHM) is a virtual museum dedicated to telling the stories of Saskatchewan’s African Canadians. This year, as part of Black History Month, they have released a travelling exhibition (currently on display at the Mackenzie Art Gallery) which pays tribute to some of Saskatchewan’s iconic African Canadian peoples and communities, from Shiloh Baptist Church and Dr. A. S. Shadd to the Honouring Tree and the Roughriders who Played and Stayed. This presentation is given by Carol LaFayette-Boyd a volunteer with SACHM, who shares with us a bit of her history and what Saskatchewan means to her.
The Art Gallery of Regina’s (AGR) exhibition Moving Pictures, which ran from August 14 – December 31, 2020, offered a unique approach to community engagement. Their spin on a travelling exhibition had posters circulated throughout the province, where passersby could, with the aid of the app Artivive, use their phone to view the brief video clips represented in the still image prominently displayed on the poster. There were nine different videos featured in this exhibition. The artists featured were, Rania AlHarthi, Lindsay Arnold, Heidi Phillips & Ian Campbell, David Garneau with Peter Brass, John Graham, Dennis Jackson, Graeme Patterson, Theo Pelmus with Kristin Snowbird, and Lindsey Rewuski. This was also a great partnership opportunity between the AGR and the Organization of Saskatchewan Art Councils (OSAC) which helped this project reach well beyond Regina. Curator Sandee Moore discusses what it was like using augmented reality (AR) and how she hopes that other museums and galleries will follow suit and embrace AR.
Moving Pictures initially ran as posters circulated throughout Saskatchewan, taking advantage of people being out and about in the summer and early fall. To take advantage of the cooler months it also ran a series of ads in local newspapers to continue to provide the larger community with access to contemporary art in the same unique fashion.
The Estevan Art Gallery & Museum’s (EAGM) exhibition Inside/Out similarly took advantage of the summer weather and put contemporary works of art on public display throughout Woodlawn Park. Inside/Out featured the works of Belinda Harrow, Regan Lanning, Monique Martin, and Zoë Schneider. These works of art were displayed in nature on plinths and behind plexiglass. This created an impromptu, COVID friendly, gallery experience for anyone out and about enjoying the warm, sunny weather. It also served as a sort of teaser for exhibitions that were to be shown in the EAGM’s exhibition spaces throughout the coming year.
Inside/Out was so well received that this past winter a second installation was run with Chantel Schultz, entitled Assume Form, , Resume Form. This second run toyed more openly with nature and the audience’s relationship with it. From the artist’s statement “the works appear to be cylindrical extractions of the earth itself mimicking the colour and form of the geological formations surrounding them.” These ice sculptures would be left to “undergo transformations” as they melted with the changing season.
Amber Andersen, the Director/Curator of the EAGM, and Chantel Schultz, the Curatorial Intern, speak at length about the initial run of the exhibition, and their excitement at the second installation, and how receptive the community at large has been to this dynamic approach to curating.
You can view the three presentations on YouTube here:
In addition, Amber Andersen (EAGM) & Sandee Moore (AGR) were our guests on MAS’s Community Chat on May 12, 2021, to answer questions about their creative approaches to curating during a pandemic.
Interested in learning more about AR? Check out Shared Spaces at the University of Saskatchewan (http://sharedspaces.usask.ca/)