May 30th, 2024

SAAG hosting three new exhibits

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on May 11, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman A gallery visitor looks at art work pieces from the Art's Alive And Well In The Schools exhibit on Friday at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery.


The Southern Alberta Art Gallery is opening three new exhibits today which include their annual “Art’s Alive And Well In The Schools” and exhibits from two southern Alberta artists.

Adam Whitford, associate curator and exhibition manager, said Friday that the spring exhibit will open today at 2 p.m. with a tour by the exhibiting artists followed by an opening reception at 7 p.m.

“In our upper gallery we have an exhibition by Lethbridge based-artist Harley Morman, “Don’t Dream It, Be It,” and in our library project space we have an exhibition by Justin Patterson, “Full Bad Moon,” said Whitford.

When speaking about the “Art’s Alive And Well In The Schools,” Whitford said it is their longest running program and has been around since a year after the gallery opened.

“It’s in its 47th year. It’s an annual exhibition that we have in the spring in partnership with the Lethbridge School Division, the Holy Spirit Roman Catholic separate regional division and Ecole La Verendry,” said Whitford.

He said they have close to 270 artworks in the iteration and over the years they have showcased tens of thousands of artworks from students kindergarten to Grade 12. He added that the pieces have been pre-selected by the various schools involved.

 “They work with their art classes and teachers to select the artworks and then they provide all the artworks to us to put up in a professional manner and create the exhibition,” said Whitford.

He explained that physically at the gallery they only have artwork on display from Grade 6 to Grade 12 students, while the majority of the Kindergarten to Grade 8 artworks are displayed online.

Artist Justin Patterson spoke about his exhibit and said he was very excited to be able to showcase his work in the library space as it was very fitted for his exhibit as it is a form or narrative.

“I’m showing some selections from a group of work that I originally exhibited in 2017. There are sort of fragments of a narrative about my grandmother’s experience as a young girl in the prairies,” said Patterson.

 He said his grandmother lost a little sister, which was traumatic for her. He added that was something that was always on his mind, wondering what that was like.

 “She was a busy woman that raised 22 kids. When she became an adult after that, I thought it was just something that was hard not to think about being from such a large family,” said Patterson.

He explained the exhibit consists of graphite drawings on canvas that give the idea of memories.

“They are kind of blurry. They look like memories. The act of making them, there’s a lot of use of these tools that I make out of sheep’s wool, like felt and this powdered graphite, so there’s kind of an emerging image that reveals itself and then you have to stop at a certain point before it just becomes all shiny black,” said Patterson.

He said the process became meaningful to him and has become a way to weave his own life with that of his grandmother’s

One of the art pieces showcases a birthday cake with four candles in front of a window, which Patterson said it was the beginning of his work.

“It’s a direct reference to the narrative of my grandmother, whose little sister when she was 12 ate some rat poison that was housed in a small piece of leftover cake for a fourth birthday and tragically died as a result of eating this,” said Patterson.

While speaking about the “Don’t Dream It, Be It,” artist Harley Morman said the exhibit was a combination of four years of work.

“It brings together a bunch of pieces of my despair practice into an overarching vision that looks a lot like a Junior high gymnasium or alternatively, depending on which corner you look at it, like the bedroom of a kid,” said Morman.

The exhibit showcases the artist’s transition journey with campy childhood material culture that combined with self-portraits of the artist, signifies how identity and gender are constituted over time.

“There are a lot of self-portraits in this exhibition – they are both self-portraits and portraits of me by institutions,” said Morman.

 Morman explained that on one of the walls the portraits showcased are examples school pictures from Grade 5 to Grade 12 juxtaposed with a current portrait.

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