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Turning Modernisms Inside Out

Enjoy art talks from the fourth edition of the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Conference, happening September 30 to October 2.

Kathleen Munn, Untitled (Cows on a Hillside)

Kathleen Munn, Untitled (Cows on a Hillside), ca. 1916. Oil on canvas, 78.7 x 104.1 cm. AGO Purchased with funds donated by Susan and Greg Latremoille, Toronto, 2006. © Estate of Kathleen Munn. 2006/85.

What were Canadian women artists’ experiences like in the 20th-century modern art movement? And what did the rise of feminist art during that transformative time mean for the art world? Despite the early 1900s bringing forth gratifying advances for many women, like the right to vote and new careers, it was also a time when,  for other women, colonialism, exclusion and repression were intensified. As old traditions saw revisions, those changes fostered a plethora of new artistic productions. Recently, the studies of multiple modernities and global modernisms got us rethinking what that time period meant, particularly from the lens of Canadian women artists. With a desire to foster an open exploration on this topic, the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative (CWAHI) dives into all of these questions in its 4th annual conference, Modernisms, Inside & Out – featuring in-depth discussions by art historians, curators and contemporary artists in response to a field of study long defined by Euro-American exemplars.

Happening from September 28 to October 2 via Zoom, this year’s conference coincides with a new travelling exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection titled Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Movement. Like its name, the exhibition features over 200 artworks by women artists across Canada, ranging from pioneers who opened the frontiers for this group, those who came from immigrant communities in this period, to Indigenous women contemporaries. 

The Canadian Women Artists History Initiative at Concordia has partnered with the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and Ryerson University’s Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre for an exciting line-up of talks and panel discussions at this year’s conference. Here are some must-attend events led by AGO curators, art historians and conservators! 


September 28 at 4 pm 

Georgiana Uhlyarik, AGO Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art ,joins writer Molly Peacock and curator Kathleen A. Foster from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to discuss Peacock’s latest book, Flower Diary: Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries & Opens a Door. You'll enjoy this in-depth conversation about Mary Heister Reid, an esteemed American-Canadian painter active in the 1880s who produced more than 300 floral still life and landscape paintings. 


October 1 at 10 am 

Opening day one of the conference, Irene Gammel from Ryerson University presents a keynote discussion to share the story of the long-forgotten Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton, shedding light on her “uninvited” status in Canada’s modern art history. The talk will dive into Hamilton’s body of work through the post-war landscape as Canada’s first unofficial woman battlefield artist. Alongside Kristina Huneault from Concordia University, AGO Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art Georgiana Uhlyarik will join in welcoming all attendees to the first plenary session. 


October 1 at 2:45 pm 

Authors from the art catalogue Uninvited come together to discuss works from the travelling exhibition Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Movement, on view now at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Co-chaired by Sarah Milroy from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and Anna Hudson from Ryerson University, each guest will speak to a chosen artwork from the exhibition. It features the following discussions: Renée van der Avoird (AGO) on Elizabeth Wyn Wood; Jocelyn Anderson (Art Canada Institute) on Anne Savage; Kristina Huneault (Concordia University) on Emily Carr; Sara Angel (The Art Canada Institute) on Yvonne McKague Housser; and John Geoghegan (Independent Researcher) on Mary Wrinch. 


October 2 at 10 am 

Joyce Zemans from York University will chair a panel discussion centred on esteemed Canadian artist Kathleen Munn, and how we learn from her art practice across different disciplines: Georgiana Uhlyarik (AGO) through the conservation process; Ingrid Mida (Ryerson University) through the drawing process; and Melissa Alexander (University of Toronto) through dance and Isadora Duncan.

For full program details and to register for this free virtual conference, visit the website. Registration includes all talks except AGO’s Art in the Spotlight on Molly Peacock, which you can register here.

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