Prairie Album: The Alberta Art Collection of the University of Lethbridge

Main Gallery

This exhibition, Prairie Album 1900-1950, is the first in a series which survey the Alberta Art Collection of the University of Lethbridge. The current selection focuses upon artworks created by artists at work in Alberta or artworks whose subject is Alberta whether created by resident Alberta artists or others from far afield. The works chosen were created by artists whose work came to maturity and significant public attention prior to 1950. Subsequent versions of the exhibition series, Prairie Album, will explore the art of the period 1950 to present.

The art collections of The University of Lethbridge have grown through the substantial donations of individuals from across the nation. The sizable and numerous holdings comprising The Alberta Art Collection (numbering in excess of 2000 artworks) are likewise the result of this history of benevolence. This series of exhibitions, Prairie Album, allows us an important opportunity for stock-taking, to celebrate the fine works that have been gathered to date and to take note of the artists or issues that, as yet, are not represented in the collection. Prairie Album 1900-1950 reflects the diversity of subjects and stylistic approaches of the art of the period: all the facets of the western Canadian landscape from the windswept prairies to the Rocky Mountains; images of agriculture; urban and town views; genre; portraiture; still-life; and the advent of modern abstract art.

No exhibition drawn exclusively from one collection can aspire to objectively reflect the full range of artistic interests and achievements concerning any subject. Significant assistance to help broaden the views presented was afforded by generous loans from Lethbridge Community College, Southern Alberta Art Gallery and The City of Lethbridge. Nonetheless, all of these public collections have been formed over the course of a comparatively small number of years, primarily through donations and with only very modest resources for direct purchases. As result, there is much work yet to be done; whole areas of artistic endeavor are as yet not included, others require bolstering and broadening: particularly the art of First Peoples, images of urban and everyday life, ranching and western life, wildlife, and the full gamut of multi-cultural heritage and experience. Likewise, surprisingly, sculpture and photography do not comprise part of any of the collections of the art of the period held by any of these institutions. As we approach the Alberta Centennial in 2005, making some amends to these collections shortcomings would be a valuable and suitable community project.

Organized with the assistance of Museum Studies students, University of Lethbridge. Coordinated by Christine Frost and Jennifer McRorie, Curatorial Interns, Youth International Internship Programme, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Government of Canada.

Category: Main Gallery

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