December 12, 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of MSVU Art Gallery in its dedicated space in Seton Academic Center on the campus of Mount Saint Vincent University. The exhibition 50 Bits and Pieces: an MSVU Art Gallery Retrospective marks this semicentennial. With the support of an Arts Nova Scotia Commission Grant, Lisa Bouraly and David Clark, two collaborators invested in archives and digitization, were invited to scour the MSVU Art Gallery archives—media holdings, exhibition files, catalogue collections, collections, and other historical records—to find out what was reflected about the Gallery’s history. Culled from more than 700 exhibitions, 1000 workshops, and 800 objects in the collection, 50 Bits and Pieces presents 50 unique yet illustrative moments from MSVU Art Gallery’s past. The original exhibition was to open in 2020, however, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced a change in plans. The installation was moved to the fall of 2021 and this extended timeline presented an opportunity for new ways to engage with the archival material. The result is an online interface, created by David, that offers collages of the “bits and pieces” selected by Lisa from the archive, including passages and excerpts from documents, speeches, research notes, exhibition installation photographs, videos, and media coverage. The exhibition is a culmination of these 50 moments and their corresponding archival material, adapted into an immersive installation at the Gallery, commemorating its 50th anniversary.
- This exhibition has passed.
50 Bits and Pieces: an MSVU Art Gallery Retrospective
Curator & Artist in the Gallery
Saturday, November 13 at 11:00am-3:00pm
Guest curator Lisa Bouraly and artist David Clark will be present at the Gallery and invite visitors to drop by to chat about the exhibition and its creation.
Archives, Research, Art: a roundtable discussion
Friday, November 26 at 2:00pm (online)
Panelists will discuss the creation and inner workings of 50 Bits and Pieces with particular emphasis on archives, research, art, and modes of presentation. Please visit the program page for Archives, Research, Art for more information.
In review and in conversation: Looking back on MSVU Art Gallery’s first 50 years
As part of MSVU Art Gallery’s 50th anniversary, guest curator Lisa Bouraly invited Ingrid Jenkner and Susan Gibson Garvey to participate in a conversation about the Gallery’s first five decades. Ingrid was the Director of MSVU Art Gallery from 1994 until her retirement in 2018, and is credited for her work in establishing the Gallery’s mandate and collecting practices, critically engaged programming, and a sustained contribution to contemporary art and writing. Sue, who was the Curator and then Director/Curator of Dalhousie Art Gallery from 1990 to 2007, is a long-time supporter of MSVU Art Gallery and friend to the late Mary Sparling, the Gallery’s pioneering Director from 1973-1994. As contemporaries and colleagues, Ingrid and Sue provide insight and candor about the activities, achievements, and challenges of MSVU Art Gallery.
To what extent does an art gallery’s exhibition and collection history live up to its stated objectives of representing and supporting artists, especially women artists? Celebrating a 50-year history (1971-2021), MSVU Art Gallery’s anniversary represents a unique opportunity to attempt to answer this question. During a year-long collaboration, we worked with visual and textual archives from MSVU Art Gallery to produce an online interface designed to make our findings breathe new life into the Gallery’s history. Drawing from dispersed and fragmented archives, a selection of 50 representative moments has been curated to encapsulate the Gallery’s 50-year history. This interface is an invitation to explore and revisit an institution which has devoted a significant part of its activities to the representation of women as cultural subjects and producers. The interface itself works as a navigation system and as an artistic and alternative database, offering a constellation of 50 activities that encompasses the Gallery’s mission, its work with surrounding communities, and its support to artists from Atlantic Canada. Navigation of the interface is neither chronological nor thematic: the serendipitous discovery of Bits and Pieces content is punctuated by digital and animated collages that weave and layer sound, video, and other multimedia elements. This interactive navigation is meant to enable visitors to create their own connections, impressions, and interpretations of the Gallery’s archives.
This project would not have been possible without the invaluable support of the Gallery team: David Dahms, Claire Dykhuis, Laura Ritchie, and Traci Steylen. We are also very grateful to Faiza Abdulle, Adrian Fish, Susan Gibson Garvey, Ingrid Jenkner, Connor Mackinnon, Lori Mombourquette, Kaya Panthier, and Wiebke Schroeder for their contributions to this project.
– Lisa Bouraly and David Clark
About the Curator
Lisa Bouraly is a researcher in Museum studies and a curator of contemporary art. She has worked at the Guido Molinari Foundation in Montreal, the Anna Leonowens Gallery at NSCAD University, and at MSVU Art Gallery. In 2020, Lisa curated a research-exhibition project entitled The Impossible Museum at Dalhousie University’s Thomas McCulloch Museum, in collaboration with the artist-run center Eyelevel Gallery. Lisa is currently pursuing a joint PhD in Museum Studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal and Université Paris 8; her research explores how contemporary museums are reshaping permanent exhibitions through an emerging repertoire of curatorial strategies and practices.
About the Artist
David Clark was born in Calgary, Alberta. He has studied at NSCAD (BFA ‘85), The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA in Sculpture 1989), the Whitney Program in New York, the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto and the ITP Program in New York. His internet and video work has been shown at international institutes and festivals and won multiple awards. In 2011 his work 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein won the $25,000 Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Award. He taught at the University of Western Ontario and is currently a Professor of Expanded Media at NSCAD University.