Medicine Hat Media

Telling Stories at the Esplanade

The Esplanade Art Gallery is pleased to present two new exhibitions, Deanna Bowen’s Stories to Pass On… and 365 Collective’s Relate, on display until April 15. There will be a public opening reception on Friday, March 2, 2012 at 7 PM. Also, in conjunction with Deanna Bowen’s art exhibition and to celebrate Black History Month, there will be an illustrated presentation by the Museum Curator, Robert Bruce Shepard, entitled “Black Pioneers of Western Canada” on Wednesday February 29 at 7 PM.

Deanna Bowen: Stories to pass on…

Inspired by a road trip to Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama in which she retraced her great grandparents’ slave roots and migration to Alberta, Ontario artist Deanna Bowen created two multimedia works about slavery-based trauma, family estrangement, community, and telling personal truths. Gospel (2007-2008) is a song of loss and longing which combines photographs of found hymn books, a sculptural/audio work, and Hollywood movie footage into a semi- autobiographical exploration of a daughter’s rejection of mother, family, and home. In Shadow on the Prairie (2009), Deanna Bowen mixes her own family story and that of the seminal 1952 Royal Winnipeg Ballet of the same name. The ballet evokes a young woman’s struggle in the harsh conditions of pioneer life, with which Bowen intertwines an exploration of a family rumour about her great uncle, a closeted gay actor & nightclub singer who played in all-black revues of Vancouver’s supper club circuit in the 1930s – 1950s. Deanna Bowen is a descendant of the Alabama and Kentucky born Black Prairie pioneers of Amber Valley and Campsie, Alberta. She is a Toronto based interdisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited internationally in numerous film festivals and galleries. Stories to pass on… is touring Canada through a collaboration with the Thames Art Gallery, Chatham, Ontario, and is accompanied by a publication.

365 Collective: Relate

From first loves to children, from friends to religion and struggles with fear and loathing, these nine short video works explore an array of human relationships and varied approaches to story-telling. Experimenting with camera work, sound, editing, and digital post-production, the makers were all members of Medicine Hat College’s 2011 Visual Communications video class, taught by faculty instructor Rory Mahony. Shown in groups of three, the projected videos create an immersive experience that takes the audience on a personal journey into the stories, testimonials, portraits and reflections of their makers.

Black Pioneers of Western Canada

Bruce Shepard’s book, Deemed Unsuitable, is a rare publication on the history of black prairie settlement. For the first time in Medicine Hat, he will give an illustrated talk on his investigation into the subject, based on the book. This presentation is offered in conjunction with Deanna Bowen’s art exhibition on her family’s slave history in the United States as well as their pioneer past in Alberta, Stories to pass on… On Wednesday February 29 at 7 PM in the Gallery Foyer, you are invited to the Esplanade for this informal evening to attend Bruce’s presentation on “Black Pioneers of Western Canada,” and enjoy refreshments. Copies of Deemed Unsuitable will be available for purchasing and signing.

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