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Beaver Tales: Canadian Art and Design

Installation view of Beaver Tales

Works by:

Mauricio Affonso, Stuart Ash, unknown Anishnaabe artist, Natasha Bailey, Mary Anne Barkhouse, Anne Barros, Amy Belanger, Douglas Boyd, Carol Bradley, Keith Campbell, Emily Carr, Clarice Cliff, Brent Comber, E.B. Cox, George Dancy, Robert Davidson, Dominion Glass Company, George Emery, Excelsior Glass Company, Todd Falkowsky, Bob Ford, Michael Fortune, Bud Fujikawa, Andrew Fussell, Frank Gehry, Gordon & Keith, Frédéric Guibrunet, Emanuel Hahn, Thor Hansen, George Huel, Cynthia Hathaway, Arthur Heming, Robert Hendery, Lawren S. Harris, Heather Cooper Company, Sabina Hill, Robert Holmes, Hothouse Design Studio, Elizabeth Wilkes Hoey, A.Y. Jackson, Virginia Johnson, J.W. Kilgour & Bros., Yvon Laroche, Tilman Lichter, Arthur Lismer, Loyal Loot Collective, JEH MacDonald, Thoreau MacDonald, Anthony Mann, Eric Matthew, Laura McKibbon, David Milne, Minton, Katherine Morley, Melissa Morrow, Earl Muldoe, unknown Northwest Coast artist, Ontario Glass Company, Charles Pachter, Pierre-Yves Pelletier, Reeva Perkins, Ann Pocket, Pierre Poulin, Christopher Pratt, Bill Reddick, Bill Reid, Bo Scaife Casey, Elda Smith, Steven Tracy Smith, Robert Southcott, Guy St-Arnaud, Harold Stacey, Thomas Furnival & Sons, Harold Town, Patrick Turner, Oksana Ulisko, Frederick Arthur Verner, Anneke van Bommel, Edward Walley, Don Watt, Joyce Wieiland, Elizabeth Wyn Wood, Thomas Wyon, Thea Yuzyk, and Tristan Zimmerman

Beaver Tales: Canadian Art and Design

September 16–December 6, 2008

Curated by Rachel Gotlieb and Martha Kelleher

University of Toronto Art Centre

This exhibition showcases both emerging and established designers and craft makers, alongside seminal artists who spearheaded the tradition of interpreting and celebrating Canadian countryside and wildlife in their artwork.

Guest curators Rachel Gotlieb and Martha Kelleher selected just over 100 pieces, to illustrate how artists, designers and craft makers, working over the last two centuries, have managed to transcend the pitfalls of kitsch and cliché, while creating universal works drawn from and inspired by motifs of Canadian identity. The objects demonstrate the extraordinary ways in which, nature-based signifiers of Canadianness have endured – and despite the enormously diverse ethnic heritage of our by now overwhelmingly urban society. Martha Kelleher believes that, “Today these now iconic indigent flora and fauna images help to form a rich and diverse heritage that provides us with a greater understanding of our culture.”

By bringing together works from art, design and craft, often regarded by scholars and curators as distinct and separate disciplines, the curators also address this low art/high art bias by revealing that Canadian symbolic flora and fauna are vital sources of inspiration and discourse across the craft, art and design communities.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with essays by Rachel Gotlieb and Martha Kelleher, and a third by Ross Fox, of the Department of Western Art and Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Opening Reception

Tuesday September 16, 2008, 6-8pm
University of Toronto Art Centre


The 12th Annual Janet E. Hutchison Lecture
The Legends of Canadian Flora and Fauna
Tuesday September 16, 2008, 4:30pm
Featuring Rachel Gotlieb and Martha Kelleher
University of Toronto Art Centre

Director’s Gallery Talk Series

From Caspar David Friedrich to Franklin Carmichael: Canada and the Northern Romantic Tradition
Wednesday October 15, 2008, 3pm
Featuring Niamh O’Laoghaire
University of Toronto Art Centre

Panel Talk

What is Canadian Anyways?
Wednesday October 29, 2008, 7pm
Featuring Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson
University of Toronto Art Centre

Gallery Talk

Looking at Beavers: A Field Guide
Tuesday November 25, 2008, 4:30pm
Featuring Matthew Brower
University of Toronto Art Centre


Our Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge the project support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, Museums Assistance Program, Manulife Financial, and Parks Canada Agency, which collaborated to present our Opening Reception.

Title Image: Ani+Lumigrane, Maplemap Hanging Lamp. Paper. Installation view of Beaver Tales: Canadian Art and Design, 2008. Image credit: Toni Hafkenscheid.

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