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College of Extended Learning

Current exhibition

Revelations: Selections from the UNB Permanent Collection

Past Revelations exhibits can be viewed on our Recent Revelations page. To view the current exhibition, visit the galleries below.

Image of a room with a blank canvas hanging on the wall and the canvas says East Gallery
The Fall*
Multiple Artists
 
Image of a room with a blank canvas hanging on the wall and the canvas says West Gallery
Second Coming*
Troy Stanley

*NOTE: Content in this exhibit may be explicit.

An Afterthought

I embarked on this series of exhibits at the beginning of the COVID-19 experience in Fredericton, New Brunswick to find a way through lockdown and to discover a new way of exhibiting art. The shock of the experience was still new when one of my colleagues at UCAGAC (University and College Art Galleries Association of Canada) brought this quote by Rebecca Solnit to our first COVID-era meeting.

When a storm subsides, the air is washed clean of whatever particulate matter has been obscuring the view, and you can often see farther and more sharply than at any other time. When this storm clears, we may, as do people who have survived a serious illness or accident, see where we were and where we should go in a new light. We may feel free to pursue change in ways that seemed impossible while the ice of the status quo was locked up. We may have a profoundly different sense of ourselves, our communities, our systems of production and our future.1

Rebecca Solnit

That quote and the inspiration I continue to draw from the genius of people like Leonardo da Vinci and Robert LePage set me to look at the creation of a new curatorial art practice using digital technology and social media as a conduit for experiencing art. This project has allowed me to explore undercurrents in the UNB Permanent Collection in a completely different way.2

I have enjoyed working with the collection and reconnecting with artists the UNB Art Centre has shown in the past. It was great to meet them again in their current reality and re-examine their work in the light of this new world. The UNB Permanent Collection was built as most collections are through donation, purchase, and bequest. However, this collection is unique for a practice initiated by former gallery director, Bruno Bobak in the sixties. In lieu of artist’s fees, which the gallery’s operating budget couldn’t possibly provide, a work was purchased from the exhibition in exchange. Many of the works in this exhibit were from that time which extended into the present millennia. I am especially grateful to the Province of New Brunswick’s Arts, Culture and Commemorations Branch for the Arts & Culture COVID-19 Special Project Grant for assistance in paying CARFAC fees to 30 artists featured in Revelations. Showcasing the work of these artists was for me one of the most rewarding parts of this project.

I am also very grateful for the support of the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation who, early on, honoured the UNB Art Centre with a Signature Grant for leadership and innovation.

In the development of Revelations, I have discovered many things. Not all of them good.  There are some very poor images and some gaps in our database. Normally, rectifying this takes a short trip to a filing cabinet or a quick photo session. Now into four months without access, these everyday things seem like relics of the past and I find myself completely reliant on the truths that are found online. I am grateful for the assistance of Emma Allen, employed through the CMA’s Young Canada Works program who helped to research the artist’s biographies. Over the summer she will continue her work with the collection and help to fill in some of the gaps.

I have also discovered how relevant and politically charged art truly is, no matter the era in which it was created. One moment of intersection was upon first hearing the bells in the June 12 release Avenging Angels and knowing that they were recorded live by Chooi Foong Chong at the Black Lives Matter protest in Montreal the previous week.

Another was the shocking murders of two indigenous people in New Brunswick this month— Rodney Levi who was shot on June 12 by an RCMP officer and Chantal Moore who was shot by a member of the Edmundston Police Department on June 4. Works from the release planned for that week will be featured in a special social media series showcasing the work of Aboriginal artists in our collection. The series will begin Sunday, June 21 to mark National Indigenous People’s Day and will honour the work of Roger Simon, We Stand on Guard for Thee (1999).

Still another was the discovery of #MeToo tagged to the obituary of a famous Montreal printmaker and sculptor who was about to be featured in the next release. Following the trail to discover this woman’s account of her experience as a model for this artist made it impossible to celebrate his work.

We are truly in an unprecedented time. As we reboot our economic and social lives, I hope we can find a way to rebuild our world in a way that considers the planet and the people that live on it. In the words of Finley Peter Dunne requoted by Banksy: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

This project started out as an adaptive approach to a new reality, a way to explore the integration of exhibition and experience. I worked with what I had at hand, a MAC, an internet connection, the UNB Permanent Collection, and my son, Brydone Charlton.

I hope you have enjoyed Revelations, a COVID-19 lock-down experiment in art and music.

Marie E. Maltais
Director, UNB Art Centre

1 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/07/what-coronavirus-can-teach-us-about-hope-rebecca-solnit

2 There is amazing potential in the possibility of immersive experience and augmented reality for the appreciation of art. Check out the Van Gogh exhibit currently in Toronto. https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/galleries-museums-reopening-1.5613940

https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/drive-in-van-gogh-exhibit-1.5567930

Also, see Sensory 4 Immersive Experiences/ Grande Exhibitions 2019 production of Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius. https://vimeo.com/88720043 

Sheila Hugh MacKay logo Government of New Brunswick logo

Credits: Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation and Government of New Brunswick, Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Marie Maltais, Director
Phone: 506 453-4623
Email: artcntr@unb.ca