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Female artists stealing the show at Dalhousie Art Gallery

On display this fall at the Dalhousie Art Gallery are three exhibitions featuring the work of female artists from near and far away.

And Yet We Still Remain … by Lisa Hirmer, Stitched Stories: The Family Quilts by Shauntay Grant, and The Dress: Mayann Francis and the Call to Serve featuring a selection of clothes worn by Mayann Francis, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia from 2006-2012.

And Yet We Still Remain … is the gallery’s main exhibition and questions the idea of “wilderness” that is so essential to Canadian identity, by juxtaposing the works of several different artists. Andrew Hunter curated the exhibition with the work of Lisa Hirmer’s Dirt Piles series, which stands in contrast to more conventional representations of the Canadian landscape.

Hirmer, named Guelph’s Artist in Residence in July, created the work in Dirt Piles over a period of several years. The photographs of natural-looking mounds are punctuated by evidence of human activity, forcing the viewer to confront our impact on the landscape that we so love to idealize.

The Dress: Mayann Francis and the Call to Serve fills the gallery with a group of freestanding mannequins displaying a selection of outfits worn by Mayann Francis. Francis was the first African Nova Scotian – and the second woman – to hold the post of Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. Francis relied on Halifax-based designer, Etalier Salwa, to create bespoke outfits for important events.

The outfits on display are worth viewing for their quality and beautiful craftsmanship alone, but the exhibit also includes audio recordings about the events for which each outfit was intended; exploring the choices Francis made when choosing her clothing for events. This exhibit is a fascinating exploration of just how important one’s choice of clothing can be.

Shauntay Grant, of Dalhousie’s English department, put together an exhibition entitled Stitched Stories: The Family Quilts. Displaying a number of quilts created by members of Grant’s family, including her grandmother and great-grandmother. The quilts are made by hand, and often created from scraps of old clothing, providing a window into the time they were made.

The quilts also serve as a jumping-off point for Grant’s own reflections, which are at work in the exhibition as well. She has created a spoken-word poem which is currently part of the exhibit, and over the course of the exhibit, Grant will change and add to her own Post-It note “quilt” on the wall as she responds to her family’s quilts.

The Dalhousie Art Gallery is located in the Fountain School of Performing Arts, on 6101 University Ave. Admission is free and the Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. These three exhibitions will be running until November 27th – take a break this fall to explore the work of these amazing women!


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