The MacKenzie Art Gallery is pleased to present “The Permanent Collection: Walking with Saskatchewan.” Curated by Bruce Hugh Russell, the exhibition runs from June 8, 2019, to April 19, 2020.
“Walking with Saskatchewan” is our inaugural exhibition from the Permanent Collection series of year-long exhibitions that will explore the depths of our collection and the roles it plays in our society. It includes promised gifts and temporary loans that help fill gaps in our collection or point toward areas of future development.
“Saskatchewan” comes from the Cree word kisiskâciwan (or kisiskatchewani sipi), which describes a river that flows at a walking pace. Referencing both this Cree origin and its anglicization, “Walking with Saskatchewan” examines how Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples represent and relate to this land as we walk it together. Drawing on the permanent collection and welcoming some distinguished visitors (including Sitting Bull’s robe, courtesy of the North Dakota State Historical Society, which returns to Saskatchewan after at least 75 years away), this exhibition presents images of the land, its peoples and its dreams.
Places are often defined by topography, common ecology and shared histories or cultures; but Saskatchewan has an arbitrary form—a trapezoid, imposed on maps and the land itself by surveyors and colonial politicians. It comprises several distinct natural environments and its original inhabitants lived according to unique and diverse traditions, speaking several languages. In more recent times (especially since the region became a Canadian province in 1905), people from all over the world have come to live here, drastically expanding that diversity. For all its eclecticism, Saskatchewan is still more than some lines on a map. We live here together in treaties, in shared experiences and in our dreams. Artists have always played a central role in imagining this place—in creating Saskatchewan itself. Focusing on work from the 1860s to 2000, this exhibition looks at how both the land and our art carry our cultural memories, and provides a glimpse into how institutional collections act as caretakers for these vital histories.
About the Collection:
The MacKenzie Art Gallery was founded on the collection of its namesake, Norman MacKenzie (1869–1936), who bequeathed his collection to the University of Saskatchewan Regina Campus (now the University of Regina). The MacKenzie is proud to continue to steward the University of Regina collection alongside works collected by the MacKenzie since our independence in 1990. The MacKenzie now cares for more than 5,000 objects spanning a period of more than 5,000 years; is the home to one of the most important collections of Indigenous art; has the most comprehensive collection of Saskatchewan art; exhibits strong representations of Western Canadian painting, ceramics and folk art; and presents key works from national and international artists. As such, we have an obligation to write the vital, yet underrepresented art histories that we are uniquely poised to address. Not only do we play a singular role in developing the art history of the Great Plains, but we also seek to continually revise that history through new voices and knowledge. Through art, education and immersive programming, we bring fresh perspectives that transform how people experience history, themselves and each other.