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Ottawa, – September 1, 2009 – The MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina is the recipient of the 2009 York Wilson Endowment Award, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts. The Gallery will use the $30,000 award to purchase six works from the Trading series by Saskatoon aboriginal artist Ruth Cuthand.“The MacKenzie Art Gallery is honoured to be the recipient of this important award,” said Stuart Reid, Executive Director of the MacKenzie Art Gallery. “This purchase of Ruth Cuthand’s work will add significantly to the Gallery’s collection of contemporary Canadian art. By addressing questions of history, identity and colonialism, the Trading series holds particular relevance for the people of Saskatchewan.”
The MacKenzie Art Gallery will acquire six of the eleven images in the Trading series which investigates the diseases and goods European traders introduced to the Americas as well as the one disease that was brought back to Europe. “The images of the Trading series are hauntingly beautiful,” noted Michelle LaVallee, assistant curator of the MacKenzie Art Gallery. “Through the use of beads, Ms. Cuthand has rendered the viruses as seen under the microscope. The names of the corresponding diseases are painted in white acrylic paint on a black suede-like surface below the intricate beadwork.”
According to the artist, “The beads are a visual reference to colonization; valuable furs were traded for inexpensive beads. On the plains beads were a valuable trade item and they replaced the method of using porcupine quills. Trading examines both sides of European trade from the new items that revolutionized Aboriginal life to the decimation of many tribes through disease.”
The members of the peer assessment committee for this year’s award were Ihor Holubizky, curator at Museum London (Ontario);
Josephine Mills, director and curator of the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery (Alberta); and Gaëtane Verna, director of the Musée d’art de Joliette (Québec).
York Wilson Endowment Award
Since its creation in 1997, the York Wilson Endowment Award has been given annually to an eligible Canadian art museum or public gallery to assist with the purchase of an original artwork by a Canadian artist that will significantly enhance its collection. The award, which is the result of gifts of more than $600,000 from Lela Wilson and the late Maxwell Henderson, honours the contribution of Canadian painter York Wilson by assisting Canadian institutions to acquire works by living Canadian painters and sculptors.
MacKenzie Art Gallery
Established in 1953, the MacKenzie Art Gallery welcomes everyone to experience visual art in all its diversity. The MacKenzie Art Gallery is strongly committed to its mandate of serving the people of Saskatchewan by exhibiting, collecting, preserving and interpreting original works of art for the enrichment of the quality of life and for the establishment and maintenance of an artistic and cultural heritage in Saskatchewan.
As one of Canada’s leading public galleries, the MacKenzie’s permanent collection numbers more than 4,000 works of art including historical and contemporary works with a special interest in Western Canadian art. The MacKenzie’s collection of 19th and 20th century European works on paper is regarded as one of Western Canada’s finest. In recent years, photography, folk art and work by Aboriginal artists have also been a focal point of the Gallery’s collecting.
Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Ruth Cuthand grew up in various communities throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan. With her Plains Cree heritage, Ms. Cuthand’s aboriginal culture and memories of her childhood experiences are often the inspiration for her work. Through her work she explores the frictions between cultures, the failures of representation, and the political uses of anger. Ms. Cuthand graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree.
In 1990, she had the first solo show of her career at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. Currently living in Saskatoon, Ms. Cuthand teaches Art and Art History at the First Nations University of Canada, Saskatoon Campus.
In addition to its principal role of promoting and fostering the arts, the Canada Council for the Arts administers and awards many prizes and fellowships in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and health sciences, engineering, and arts management. These prizes and fellowships recognize the achievements of outstanding Canadian artists, scholars, and administrators. The Canada Council for the Arts is committed to raising public awareness and celebration of these exceptional people and organizations on both a national and international level.
Please visit our website for a complete listing of these awards.
For more information:
Public Relations Officer
1-800-263-5588 or (613) 566-4414, ext. 4523
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Arts Promotion Coordinator
1-800-263-5588 or (613) 566-4414, ext. 5145
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MacKenzie Art Gallery
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