Recent Revelations | UNB

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College of Extended Learning

Recent Revelations

Revelations elaborates on ideas developed through the production of Attending the Apocalypse, an exhibition by Janice Wright Cheney and Jennifer Lee Wiebe.


Marie E. Maltais
Director, UNB Art Centre


There are many beloved treasures in the UNB Permanent Collection. These 2,300 artworks acquired through donation, bequest, commission and purchase are part of a working collection that can be seen in the libraries, green spaces, hallways and lounges across the Fredericton and Saint John campuses. These works are a part of our university environment and have become a welcome part of our daily life at UNB.

There are, however, some works that are rarely seen. Sometimes it is simply a lack of space, or it may be that the work is too fragile to display, but sometimes it is the difficult subjects they present. These are the works that will be featured in the upcoming exhibit. They are at times raunchy, self-indulgent, bitter and sweet. In them, you see the faces of humanity and the darker side of our existential struggle.

Incubated during the COVID-19 lockdown, Revelations is curated using images from the UNB Art Centre’s database and is designed to be seen online. It will unfold each week through a series of episodes released every Friday at 5 pm (ADT) beginning May 29 through June 26. You are invited to enter UNB Art Centre Online and explore the virtual East and West Galleries to view the latest release.

Marie E. Maltais
Director, UNB Art Centre

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


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.

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

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.

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