Kathleen Munn (1887-1974), Untitled (Cows on a Hillside), c. 1916, oil on canvas, 78.7 x 104.1 cm, AGO Purchased with funds donated by Susan and Greg Latremoille, Toronto, 2006, 2006/85
Modernisms Inside & Out: Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Conference
September 28 and 30 to October 2, 2021
In September 2021 the McMichael Canadian Art Collection will launch Uninvited, a major exhibition on women and art in the 1920s and 30s. The exhibition offers an important opportunity to reassess women’s visual and material engagements with the modern as a cultural force in Canada.
The social changes effected by modernization brought significant advances for many women: full legal personhood, new careers, the vote, and increasing opportunities for public and artistic leadership. For others, however, modernity produced further exclusion and repression. As racialized rhetoric intensified, immigration policy tightened and settlers sought to eliminate Indigenous cultural expression or confine it to the past. Economic transformation endangered pre-industrial ways of life and their attendant cultural forms, but also stimulated new kinds of artistic production.
How did the visual and material cultures of Canadian women position them both inside and outside of the modern? And how does the art that women made turn modernism itself inside‑out?
A rich history of scholarly investigation exists to support this inquiry. In the 1980s and 90s, feminist scholars of European and American art critiqued modernism and the cultural apparatus that supported it, arguing that women constituted modernism’s excluded other. Since then, investigations of anti-modernism as a cultural force in Canada have called attention to the political, linguistic, and economic tensions that led many to search for alternatives. Most recently, studies of multiple modernities and global modernisms have asked us to rethink the boundaries and priorities of a field of study too-long defined by Euro-American exemplars. What new insights emerge when we bring the focalizing lens of Canadian women’s experiences to these discussions?
Join art historians, curators, and contemporary artists as they respond to these issues across all forms of material and visual culture during the fourth conference of the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative, which is dedicated to examining the idea of the modern as a cultural force in Canada.
See full program (PDF 2.4 MB)
This conference is a partnership between Concordia University, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and Ryerson University’s Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre.