The Beaverbrook Art Gallery hosts an exhibition showcasing New Brunswick art in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the New Brunswick Art Bank.
The New Brunswick Art Bank was established in 1968 by Robert Pichette, then-deputy premier and minister of cultural affairs. It comprises 820 pieces created by 118 New Brunswick artists.
Emma Hassencahl-Perley, one of three curators of the 50th anniversary exhibit, said this showcase aims to display the historic work of the Art Bank while conveying a narrative of current experiences in the province.
“We were looking for works that fit into the theme and fit into the narrative we were trying to achieve,” she said.
The exhibition, titled “Psi-kwek keti mewi, Tout va bien aller, Everything is gonna be fine, Wela'sitew na,” includes 57 pieces in a variety of mediums. The title celebrates the many languages of New Brunswick through its inclusion of French, English, Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqey. It also carries many potential meanings, according to Hassencahl-Perley, as it can imply reassurance, denial, or hope to individual viewers.
“It is tongue-in-cheek. Anyone can interpret it how they want,” she said. “It came from saying it to each other during the project. When we were really stressed out about something, we would tell each other that everything was going to be fine.”
The event is designed to focus on the themes of ecosystems, voices and new futures.
Hassencahl-Perley said these themes continued to present themselves as relevant throughout the project, and so it became natural to focus the exhibit around them.
The experience of the three curators - Hassencahl-Perley, Emilie Grace Lavoie, and Erin Goodine - as young women with varying backgrounds directly influenced the chosen themes.
“We were specifically picked for the project because we are from three different communities, so we can learn more about each other,” Hassencahl-Perley said.
She believes the chosen pieces reflect the current perception of New Brunswick, as well as the potential for a brighter future through dialogue and social change.
“The art paired with curation can really talk about these things that are happening in New Brunswick in terms of culture, and art, and people,” she said.
Hassencahl-Perley said the exhibit aims not only to display the work collected by the New Brunswick Art Bank, but to also make the historical pieces more contemporary and relevant.
“The work is already there for us to enjoy, and really the Art Bank was created to foster the work of New Brunswick artists. I think curation can really place new interpretations on artwork,” she said.
Hassencahl-Perley said the experience was incredibly positive and has sparked a new partnership between the three curators.
“Our bond has been really special and we’ve gotten through all of the tough spots really easily, I think. It made the experience really worthwhile,” she said.
Hassencahl-Perley, Lavoie and Goodine have since formed an artistic collective named 3E, with which they hope to write books, curate more shows, and complete an artist’s residency together.