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Exhibition Opening | Alicia Henry and Sandra Meigs



September 28, 08:00pm - 10:00pm
Join us on Saturday, September 28, 8-10 PM, to celebrate the opening of Alicia Henry | Witnessing and Sandra Meigs | TERRE VERTE.
Free and everyone is welcome to attend
 
Alicia Henry | Witnessing
 
For the last two decades, Alicia Henry has been exploring unconventional approaches to portraiture, using the face to represent something that is hidden, revealed and performed. Selecting her media carefully, she works with felt, canvas and other textiles, as well as leather and paperboard, all of which absorb her drawn and stitched gestures that register a spectrum of human contexts and emotions.
 
In Witnessing, Henry’s compelling compositions are drawn from a multitude of references: the artist’s own memories, her collection of West African masks, events on the street and on television, to name a few. Imbued with her perspective as an African American woman, the figures assert themselves as timeless witnesses embodying the impact of personal and social histories. Notions of gender and family are significant in her works, as are physical layers that suggest multiple and unfixed identities.
 
Henry does not view her art as political but acknowledges that “at this time in the United States, the brown body has become politicized.” In her graceful and expressive installations, a lingering melancholy evokes racial traumas suffered by innumerable groups and individuals, today and over the centuries. But simultaneously—through their direct gaze and attentive composure—Henry’s multigenerational survivors exude a powerful strength and confidence. Perhaps they stand in anticipation of an egalitarian future—a utopian goal that underpins much of Henry’s practice.
 
Curated by Daina Augaitis
 
Alicia Henry (born 1966, Illinois) lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee. Her work has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions at institutions, including the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville (2016); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2012); the Nashville International Airport (2002); the Cheekwood Museum, Nashville (2000); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City (1997); and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (1996). She has received numerous awards such as the Joan Mitchel Foundation award, the Ford Foundation Fellowship, the Guggenheim Fellowship and, most recently, the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. A native of Illinois, Henry received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA at Yale University at the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Henry is currently a professor of art at Fisk University in Nashville, one of the oldest Black universities in the United States.

Sandra Meigs | TERRE VERTE
 
The paintings in TERRE VERTE reflect upon the ecology and spirit of the vast grasslands of Southern Alberta. Sandra Meigs painted and studied these landscapes en plein air, over a period of twenty-eight years. Each of these works portrays an encounter with the synergist system of life in this diverse habitat. 
 
Returning to visit the same terrain, Meigs’ gouache studies and paintings refer to McIntyre Ranch: a 55,000 acre ranch established in 1898 and in operation today. Meigs was included in two iterations of the McIntyre Ranch Project in 1991 and 2004, wherein the Thrall family hosted a research project between the artists, curators and biologists at the ranch and each residency resulted in an exhibition of new works at the SAAG in 1992 and 2005 respectively. Meigs has continued with recent research there, 2017 through 2019, creating representations of the distinctive rough fescue, flora, wildlife and fowl of the region are rendered in her enigmatic and vivid style. 
 
Sandra Meigs describes her experience in residencies in Southern Alberta and its impact upon her work as follows: 
One day I was observing a far-off eagle nest with my binoculars. The nest was on the side of the cliff, built into the clinging remnant of a tree that had tried to grow there. During this drawing session the sky darkened and it became very windy. A rainstorm began. Under my rain jacket I watched the eagle and her chicks, the mother gliding high in the dark sky, swooping low and hunting prey for her babies, then dropping the food in the nest. It was one of the most profound experiences I remember ever having in nature. 
 
Curated by Kristy Trinier
 
Sandra Meigs is dedicated to painting and to the possibilities of enchantment that painting presents through colour, form and imagination. She believes that the very authenticity of one’s experience offers proof that what is imagined when looking at a painting is as real as anything else that one experiences in the world.
 
Meigs won the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO in 2015. Recent exhibitions include Room for Mystics, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, I Feel Real, Vivianeart, and The Glass Ticker, Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto. She resides in Hamilton, Ontario. Sandra Meigs is represented by Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto and Vivianeart, Calgary.
 
With special thanks to the Thrall family for lending a work to the exhibition and hosting curatorial and artist site visits in the creation of this exhibition, and their legacy of supporting the McIntyre Ranch Project at SAAG.

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