Alumni and faculty exhibit in the 2015 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art
MacEwan University is thrilled that four of its own are among the 42 Alberta artists invited to take part in Future Station: 2015 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA).
Alumni Brenda Draney, Travis McEwen and Erin Schwab, along with Leslie Sharpe, chair of the university’s Fine Art program, are all exhibiting their work in the biennial.
“I’m so thrilled to see our alumni in the show and I’m also excited to make an active contribution to what is happening in Alberta art, especially since most of my exhibitions have taken place elsewhere,” says Leslie. “A biennial is such an important part of what goes on in terms of culture in the province. It’s an opportunity for everyone—not just artists—to see the wide range of artwork that is being created here.” Leslie’s work in the exhibition is a series of metal prints and a rya “polar bear rug” based on passages through the Arctic.
An invitation to explore contemporary art
The exhibit’s name—Future Station—was inspired by an abandoned transit platform underneath the civic centre and the exhibit’s description says that the title “serves as a metaphor for the status of contemporary visual culture in Alberta—it exists and functions as a potent vacancy awaiting due recognition.”
Leslie says that a biennial can play a significant role in bringing new audiences to see and appreciate the work of contemporary artists.
“There is such huge potential for the arts in Alberta and I am so thrilled to see young artists staying here and working, contributing to their community and making Alberta a culturally interesting place to live and work. This biennial in particular is an excellent chance to see the work of younger Alberta artists. These emerging artists frequently show their work in artist-run spaces, which are so vital for our communities, but the biennial brings another audience to their work—and brings a new generation of artists to a terrific established space—the AGA—and that’s important for both artists and for the community.”
Missive from the North
One of those artists is alumna Brenda Draney, who is exhibiting a series of eight plein air paintings (paintings created on location) in the show. Brenda has exhibited across Canada and been recognized with several awards, including the prestigious Eldon and Anne Foote Edmonton Visual Arts Prize for her Suspend exhibit at the AGA last year. For her, the honour of contributing work to the biennial that is represents northern Alberta is particularly meaningful.
“My practice is connected to being from Slave Lake and Northern Alberta, so representing my home and its stories in the biennial makes me proud,” says Brenda, who holds a diploma, two undergraduate degrees and a master’s in fine art. “This series, called Missive From The North, includes paintings of the boreal forest, which is my home. It is for the people of northern Alberta and it’s an honour to be able to put this place in Alberta into this exhibition. It’s also exciting to see my work displayed together with the other dynamic and diverse work in the biennial. It makes me think that there are a lot of exciting things happening in Alberta’s arts community.”
Future Station runs until May 3 at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Sample of works by faculty and alumni included in the Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art:
By Travis McEwen
By Leslie Sharpe
By Erin Schwab
By Brenda Draney
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