Where This Goes opens October 20
On October 19, MacEwan University celebrated the launch of the John and Maggie Mitchell Art Gallery in Allard Hall. This professional gallery is dedicated to presenting exhibitions, programs and publications that feature diverse artistic and curatorial perspectives, and committed to engaging the public and the university community in critical discourse about contemporary art.
The gallery was named in honour of a generous donation from John and Maggie Mitchell, who are highly regarded as passionate community builders with significant ties to both MacEwan University and the Edmonton arts community. John served on the Board of Governors from 2007 to 2015, and together, the Mitchells are known as dedicated arts patrons and have given significant support to several major arts initiatives across the city.
A professional space
Having a public art gallery on site is a first for the university. Though temporary spaces were set up to display student work in the previous building, there was no proper gallery space and certainly no feasible way of presenting exhibitions featuring professional artists.
The John and Maggie Mitchell Art Gallery will feature the work of professional artists from Edmonton, Alberta and around the country, and support curatorial research, according to Allan Gilliland, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications. It will create connections with the community outside of MacEwan, drawing visitors to campus to engage with the exhibitions, which will be free to visit. “It’s going to be so great to see people visiting the building for the sake of the art gallery,” says Allan.
Where This Goes
October 20 marks the official opening of Where This Goes, the gallery's first exhibition, featuring the work of seven MacEwan Fine Art alumni: Sean Caulfield, DaveandJenn, Tanya Harnett, Deirdre Logue, Chris Millar and Paul Robert.
Spanning diverse media and exploring wide-ranging ideas in the areas of nature, gender and sexuality, identity, performance, and imaginative worlds, this exhibition features a cross-section of distinguished Fine Art program participants from every previous decade of the program thus far. Where This Goes has been organized to acknowledge over 30 years of the Fine Art program, and to celebrate the career and the artistic trajectories of these distinguished graduates. “It’s just a thrill after all these years to circle back and be involved in the first exhibition in this new space,” says alum Sean Caulfield. “The program had a huge impact and continues to have a huge impact on our community.”
“It’s incredible to have a dedicated, professional, public gallery in Allard Hall,” exhibition curator Carolyn Jervis says of the opportunity to exhibit professional artists within university walls. According to Carolyn, exhibitions in the gallery won’t just stand on their own either. Where This Goes and future exhibitions will provide opportunities for the community to engage with art through programming that may include artist talks, panel discussions and other opportunities for thinking differently and creatively through encounters with artwork.
“Galleries are made by their programming, because ultimately, galleries are about people,” says Carolyn. “Great programming supports meaningful shared experiences through art.”
The student connection
Having a professional gallery in the building means that Fine Art and Design Studies students have an incredible venue for their graduation shows. Every year, the exhibition calendar will include a show each for the graduating classes of both programs to celebrate their accomplishments.
“This is a chance for students to properly use a gallery space and to learn how galleries work,” says Allan. “We’ve designated this as a professional gallery space, and so we’re going to be bringing in professional shows throughout the year, but we’ll also have those two exhibitions showcasing student art. So it’s that great symbiotic relationship between the professional world and learning experiences.”
Sean sees having professional exhibitions on campus as a major benefit to not only Fine Art students, but the community as a whole. “As an art student you need to see original work. Seeing it firsthand makes a difference,” he says. “But more broadly I think it’s a really huge bonus for the whole community and the province to have this new gallery.”
Where This Goes is on view from October 20 through December 16.