Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada —12 October: The MacKenzie Art Gallery is pleased to announce Beyond the Stone Angel: Artists Reflect on the Deaths of Their Parents, set to open 14 October 2021. Curated by Timothy Long, Head Curator at the MacKenzie, this exhibition proves timely as a poetic exploration of family loss—an experience affecting so many, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Featuring new and existing works by twelve Canadian artists, including four from Saskatchewan, Beyond the Stone Angel provides a glimpse into the artists’ first-hand experiences of life-altering grief—articulating the loss of a parent through a variety of cultural and artistic frames. The artists reflect on the various stages of mourning, moving from the cold, stone-like details of life ending toward the recognition of an enduring presence. Audiences are invited to share the artists’ vulnerability and insights in these poignant monuments to the life-givers who have left.
Among the works in the display are two remarkable new installations created especially for the occasion.
“I Cried” by Regina artist and choreographer Robin Poitras features a two-metre high granite fountain that sheds two continuous streams of tears—a monument to the memory of her recently deceased parents. The title of the work is based on a poem by her father, the architect Clifford Wiens, who penned it after the death of his wife, artist Patricia Wiens, in 2018.
“You who are Older than us” is the poetic name of an artwork by Tiohtià:ke/Montreal interdisciplinary performance artist Shauna Beharry. The title refers to a star which revealed this name to her after the passing of her father, Dr. Amos Beharry, who died in isolation earlier this year in a Moose Jaw care facility. As Beharry relates, “From over a thousand miles away, I walked night after night before curfew—listening to the stars above me, above him. The distance collapsing. Our family together again.” Beyond serving as a memorial to all who died during the COVID-19 pandemic and to those left behind, the star also recognizes the families that were broken up by the death of children at residential schools, a gesture prompted by the recent discovery of unmarked graves at the former Marieval residential school site. Memorialization with the star was entrusted to the SK Arts Permanent Collection on August 22, 2021 and transforms an earlier piece—a jar holding traces of a performance created in 1991 after the death of the artist’s mother, Hyacinth Beharry. Other artists presented in this exhibition include: Gabriela Agüero, Laura Barrón, Deborah Carruthers, Erika DeFreitas, Sherry Farrell Racette, Gabriela García-Luna, Spring Hurlbut, Zachari Logan, Bev Pike, and Lyla Rye.
“This powerful and moving exhibition offers a much-needed pause for many of our community members.” comments Executive Director & CEO John G. Hampton, “It creates a space for collective grief, healing, and love. While this work resonates across any time, it is particularly poignant now as we find new ways to mark, share, and heal from loss in our communities.”
In conjunction with Beyond the Stone Angel, guests are also invited to view Separate Journeys, Shared Paths: Filmmakers Reflect on the Deaths of their Parents and Grandparents in the Shumiatcher Theatre and online through the MacKenzie’s website. Presenting works by Syafiq Jaafar, Stuart Marshall, Emma Roufs, and Sonya Ballantyne, this curated collection of short films examines the ways death acts as a catalyst for artistic journeys—inspiring a search for answers, lost connections, and origins.
Accompanying the exhibition and video program, on 28 October, Gallery visitors are also welcome to enjoy the Rawlco Radio and MacKenzie Art Gallery Free Admission Evening from 5 – 9 PM—the first in over a year. During this event, guests will be able to enjoy free access to the Gallery’s exhibitions, hourly tours, refreshments from Craft Services by Crave Café, and take part in a virtual act of remembrance with an online presentation at 7 PM live-streamed to MacKenzie Art Gallery’s social media.
“This is an exhibition with deep personal significance for me as it grew out of the loss of both my parents in 2015-2016.” relates Timothy Long, “I am grateful to each artist for sharing their responses to grief and touching us at the most profound level.”
After over a year of isolation, it is hoped that this exhibition and video program will provide a space for viewers to find connection and solace in response to a universally shared experience of loss.
This exhibition is on view until 13 February 2022.