May 8th, 2021 – August 16th, 2021

A Prairie Vernacular

Folk & Contemporary Art Narratives of Life On the Canadian Prairies

A Prairie Vernacular examines historic and contemporary representations of the vernacular in artistic practice on the Canadian prairies, considering the relationship of folk art to contemporary art produced in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Vernacular art is largely defined as a genre of art made by individuals untrained in the visual arts, who may not even identify themselves as artists. Artists represented in the exhibition include historic and contemporary untrained or self-taught artists, as well as academically trained artists whose works speak to the vernacular, the locality and history of the Prairie.

These representations of the vernacular not only adopt the materials, methods and/or motivations of a folk aesthetic, but speak to shared contexts and subject matter, either reflecting on memories and histories of life on the prairies or presenting visual narratives rife with humour, fantasy, myth, politics, religion, and the prairie gothic. The relationship on the Prairies between folk or vernacular art and contemporary art that engages in the vernacular has been complex and, perhaps, somewhat symbiotic, stemming from a shared interest in Prairie experience, culture, environment and sensibilities as compelling sources for artistic practice.

Curated by Jennifer McRorie & Joanne Marion; organized and toured by Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery in partnership with the Esplanade and is funded by the Government of Canada and Department of Canadian Heritage.

Image credit (top) L-R: Kenneth HouseGo, Casual Distress, Harvester, 1985, Collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Ann Harbuz, Inside Views of Whitkow, 1980. Jude Griebel, Grandmother, 2012. William Panko, Happy Cabbages, n.d., Collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Jane Zednik, Bull, 1980. Amalie Atkins, Scenes from a Secret World, 2010.

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