Exploring the New Brunswick Art Bank, no. 2: The Art Bank

Beaverbrook Art GalleryJanuary 25, 20190 Comments

Earlier this week, we met the three emerging curators who have been working on the NB Art Bank’s upcoming exhibition (if you missed it, read about it here). This special exhibition will be on view at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery from February 16 until June.

The exhibition celebrates 50 years of New Brunswick’s art bank, and the emerging curators immersed themselves in its collection –all 829 complete works! – to create it. But just what is an art bank?

We sat down with Danielle Hogan, a Program Consultant with the province and the Manager of the New Brunswick Art Bank, to find out more about the New Brunswick Art Bank, and its 50th anniversary.

Photo: Radio-Canada

The New Brunswick Art Bank’s website describes it as “a permanent collection of the visual arts in New Brunswick [… that] celebrates the province’s excellence in the contemporary visual arts.” So, it seems to be something of a “greatest hits” collection of New Brunswick artworks.

How did it come about, and what works are in it?

Danielle: “The NB Art Bank was established in 1968 in a nation-leading decision. This provincial collection of works now totals almost 900 individual pieces; artworks are chosen by a jury through bi-annual calls for submissions to New Brunswick artists.
The Art Bank features many of New Brunswick – no, Canada’s - most preeminent artists, all of whom were either born in New Brunswick or lived here for a significant period of their careers. There are works by 118 different artists in the collection, including works by such nationally-renowned artists as Claude Roussel, Shirley Bear, Molly Lamb Bobak, Bruno Bobak, and Herménégilde Chiasson.”

829 works over 50 years is quite the collection! Why is this collection important, and how can New Brunswickers engage with it?

“I believe the provincial art collection can be of value to the people of New Brunswick in a number of ways. First, by how it reaches communities across the entire province. Between the new Aboriginal acquisitions tour, our school shows – Van Go and La Grande Visite – and the biannual New Acquisitions tours, we work really hard to make original art available and accessible to New Brunswickers in every corner of the province, not just those who live in the larger centers. Also, research shows us that the visual arts have a positive impact on our lives and wellbeing (for example, this article). The arts truly are about education, community building and wellbeing and these are the major reasons why I believe this collection is so important.”

Our emerging curators, then, have been working with a collection that includes works by New Brunswick’s important artists, and a collection that Emilie Grace Lavoie described to us as “a celebration of our province, its people, and its unique history”– not a small subject!

In our next blog, we’ll look at how they approached the process of creating an exhibition from such a collection – stay tuned! Then, starting in mid-February, see the new exhibition for yourself, on view at the Gallery.

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