AGSM virtual debut “A Prairie Vernacular”

Photo: AGSM

On Thursday, January 14, 7:00 pm the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba will virtually debut the 2021 winter season with the regionally touring exhibition, A Prairie Vernacular (Folk & Contemporary Art Narratives of Life on the Canadian Prairies.) The exhibition has been assembled from private and public collections in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta through the curation of Jennifer McRorie (Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, SK) and Joanne Marion (Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre, AB). Visitors will be able to access the exhibition through a combination of special on-line presentations, artist talks and workshops

This exhibition examines historic and contemporary representations of the vernacular or ‘everyday’ in artistic practice on the Canadian prairies and considers the relationship of folk art to contemporary art produced in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Vernacular art is largely defined as a genre of art made by individuals untrained in the visual arts or who may not identify as artists. Included in this exhibition are both historic and contemporary untrained or self-taught artists, as well as academically trained artists whose works are affected by the locality and history of the Prairie. Shared contexts and subject matter reflect on memories and histories of life on the prairies and present visual narratives rife with humour, fantasy, myth, politics, religion, and the prairie gothic. The relationship between Prairie folk art and contemporary art is complex and, perhaps symbiotic stemming from a shared interest in Prairie experience, culture, environment and sensibilities as compelling sources for artistic practice.

Dr. Carmen Robertson observes that Indigenous vernacular art envisions the Prairies through a lens that fixes spiritual kinship with the land. The buffalo, an iconic symbol of the inter-relational connections to land manifested in an early work by Kainai artist Percy Plain Woman and in recent works by Siksika artist Adrian Stimson, serves here as a unifying force for diverse individual and collective narratives. Considering these works as visual stories, much like oral or textual ones held by Indigenous peoples of this territory, resituates the rendered narratives that span almost eighty years within a cultural milieu.

There are 75 Prairie-based artists and over 100 works in the exhibition. Participating Manitoba artists include Ivan Eyre, Bill Lobchuk, Don Proch, Chris Reid and Diana Thorneycroft.

Virtual programming for A Prairie Vernacular includes:

VIRTUAL OPENING and Introduction to AGSM new curator, Lucie Lederhendler, Thursday, January 14, 7:00 pm CDT
‘Lunch & Look’ with curators, Joanne Marion and Jennifer McRorie on Friday, January 15 at noon pm CDT.
Artist Talk with Diana Thorneycroft on Thursday, February 4, 2:00 pm CDT
Artist Talk with Adrian Stimson on Thursday, February 25, 2:00 pm CDT
Family workshop on Thursday, March 11, 6:30 pm CDT

All events will take place virtually via the gallery’s Facebook page.
Unique to this presentation, a ‘Vernacular Spotlight’ portrays four local Westman artists and artisans whose work and life will bring the context of the exhibition and its relationship to their practice together in a series of video portraits scheduled for release on January 28, February 11, 18 and March 4 at 7:00 pm via the AGSM’s social media.

Teachers, educators and families are welcome to book virtual tours related to Brandon District School Board curriculum and exhibition themes. Additional resources are available by contacting

A Prairie Vernacular catalogue is available for purchase through the AGSM Gift Shop. Exhibition circulation of A Prairie Vernacular is made possible through the generous support of Canadian Heritage. The AGSM acknowledges the support of Young Canada Works in Heritage Institutions as well as the Canada Council’s Digital Strategies Fund in the development of virtual programming.