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Agnes Etherington Art Centre debuts national Rembrandt tour

Campus art museum is first stop on Queen’s-curated tour of famed artist’s works and influences.

Rembrandt's Head of an Old Man in a Cap
Rembrandt's Head of an Old Man in a Cap.

Three and a half centuries after his death, Queen’s University’s Agnes Etherington Art Centre debuted a touring exhibition celebrating the emergence of one of history’s most renowned artists: Rembrandt van Rijn. Drawing on the strengths of the museum’s Bader Collection, the exhibition – Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges – will appear in four Canadian cities and features works of art by Rembrandt, his colleagues, and his students, that reflect the creative environment and influences that shaped the earliest years of his career.

“Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s continues to flourish as a place of esteemed cultural and academic excellence,” says Teri Shearer, Queen’s Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “The opening of this touring exhibition demonstrates the scholarly importance of the museum’s work, and highlights the international prominence of the collection housed there. The inspiring, experiential learning opportunities it presents to the Queen’s and Kingston communities are invaluable.”

The exhibition opens to the public only months after the Agnes unveiled Rembrandt’s 1659 work Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair. Linda and Daniel Bader donated the piece to the museum in memory of Daniel’s late father and Queen’s alumnus, Alfred Bader. Dr. Bader, chemist, entrepreneur, visionary philanthropist, and discerning collector of art, passed away last December.

Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair joined three of Rembrandt’s acclaimed works donated by Alfred and Isabel Bader between 2003 and 2015. Though Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair is not part of this exhibition, as it is from later in the artist’s career, many works from the Bader Collection, and loaned works from across North America will be on view and travel nationally as part of the exhibition. Together, the works investigate the experimentation, emulation, and ambition of artists in 17th century Leiden, Netherlands.

Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue, in both English and French, that features essays by leading scholars in Dutch art, including Bader Curator/Researcher of European Art, Jacquelyn N. Coutré, and Bader Chair in Northern Baroque Art, Stephanie S. Dickey, as well as entries on the exhibited works by Coutré. An in-gallery and online interactive map of Rembrandt’s Leiden, as well as a short documentary about the contemporary city, animates the city’s history as part of this exhibition as well.

“This exhibition highlights the wonderful examples of Dutch art in Canadian collections, and deepens our understanding of the early careers of Rembrandt and his circle,” says Coutré. “The origin of this show is our Head of an Old Man in a Cap of circa 1630, the first Rembrandt painting presented to the Agnes by Alfred and Isabel Bader in 2003. Support from Bader Philanthropies and from Isabel Bader, in the form of a recent gift of three paintings featured in the exhibition, has thus been a deeply meaningful contribution to this exhibition.”

The Aug. 24 public launch of Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University marks the first showing of the exhibition as it embarks on a national tour. Between August 2019 and May 2021, the exhibition will make extended appearances at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton in Hamilton. The catalogue and the exhibition tour are supported by grants from the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund, a Bader Philanthropy; and the Government of Canada.

Agnes Etherington Arts Centre will formally celebrate Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges at their Fall Season Launch reception on Sept. 19, 2019.

To learn more about the exhibit and the Fall Season, visit the Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s website.

Jan Allen to retire as Agnes director

Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer announced on Wednesday that Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Agnes) will retire from the position as of Jan. 1, 2020. 

Allen has provided remarkable leadership in her time at the Agnes since her appointment in 2012 as acting director, followed by her appointment to director in 2014. During her tenure, she has overseen numerous exhibitions, publications, programs and acquisitions, including the most recent Rembrandt van Rijn, Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair, 1659, oil on panel. Gift of Linda and Daniel Bader, 2019 (62-002). Under her leadership the Agnes has won several prestigious awards and has nearly doubled its funding from the Canada Council for the Arts.

“Jan has laid a solid foundation for the Agnes’s continued success, working closely with the gallery’s Advisory Board, the university, and through her active engagement with the both the local and international art communities,” says Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer. 

An award-winning curator, writer and assistant professor in the Cultural Studies program, Allen has also served on numerous national-level juries and advisory committees and on the Boards of the Ontario Association of Art Galleries and the Canadian Art Museum Director’s Organization.

Allen will remain active in her remaining months at Queen’s supporting the fall 2019 launch of the new graduate program in Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies in partnership with the Department of Film and Media, initiating a feasibility study and functional plan for an expanded and fully accessible facility, completing program planning and revenue development for programs over the next several years, overseeing reinstallation of the Etherington House and the launch of the new Franks Gallery, and advancing a major digital project in tandem with development of a Digital Strategy framework, supporting the final preparations of the exhibition Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges in commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the death of Rembrandt van Rijn, and assisting the leadership transition.

A search for a new director is anticipated to begin in the very near future.


Fostering local musical talent

[Isabel Concert Hall]
A showcase performance of all the finalists of the YGK Emerging Musician Competition will be held at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday, Sept. 20. (University Communications)

Kingston’s legacy as a hotbed for musical talent is well known. From The Tragically Hip, The Glorious Sons and Sarah Harmer, to John Burge, Marjan Mozetich and Leonid Nediak, the talent produced in YGK is as impressive as it is diverse.

This fall, local up-and-coming acts will have the opportunity to take the stage for the 2019 YGK Emerging Musician Competition. Open to emerging musicians of all cultural backgrounds and genres, this competition is presented by the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, inspired by local entrepreneur Claire Bouvier and Aaron Holmberg, technical director at the Isabel, and made possible by The Ballytobin Foundation, Venture Club, and Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO).

“Emerging musicians need a platform and the tools to launch successful careers. The inaugural YGK Emerging Musicians Competition seeks to support and showcase Kingston’s rising musical talent,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “We are grateful for the community support and the enthusiastic response to this competition so far.”

Selected by an independent jury of notable Kingston arts talents, the five finalists will each be awarded a prize package valued at $7,500, which includes:

  • A professional audio recording of the musician’s original work or work of their choice
  • A video of a work of the musician’s original work or work of their choice, to be used by the musician and posted on the Isabel’s website for one year
  • Professional photography and media kit
  • Career and business workshops with Claire Bouvier and business consultants
  • One-year Venture Club membership
  • A showcase performance at the Isabel, with all the finalists, on Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 pm.
Online application: https://app.getacceptd.com/theisabelygk
Application deadline: Monday, June 17, at 5 pm (EST)
Non-refundable application fee: $40
Announcement of finalists: Friday, July 5
Finalist video and recording day: Saturday, Aug. 17
Finalist showcase concert: Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 pm

Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada; 18 years and older; self-identify as emerging musicians; reside in the City of Kingston or within 50 kilometres of Kingston’s borders; and aspire to a professional concert career.

Aspiring musicians of all cultural and music genre backgrounds are both welcome and encouraged to apply. This competition is for artists with one to five musicians in their band/ensemble, and an original work must be submitted online. 

“Kingston has a fabulous music scene and this competition exists to help emerging musicians put their best foot forward, to share their talents widely, and launch themselves,” Bouvier says. “This competition offers a fabulous opportunity and we encourage all up-and-coming musicians in Kingston to apply.”

The competition also has its own Facebook page.

Top acts take the stage in dazzling new season at The Isabel

Bader Overton Virtuosi Festival
The Bader and Overton Virtuosi Festival will feature a number of top international acts including, clockwise from top left: Branford Marsalis; Measha Brueggergosman; Stewart Goodyear; and Jan Lisiecki.

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts recently announced its 2019-20 season which is highlighted by the introduction of a new virtuosi festival, a national cello competition, a competition for Kingston’s emerging musicians, and the Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival.

The season includes top emerging and established artists performing in the Isabel’s Soloist, Ensemble, Kingston Connection, Jazz, Baroque + Beyond, Kingston Children’s Corner, and Global Series.

MA in Arts Leadership
The Isabel is the co-creator of the MA in Arts Leadership program with the DAN School of Drama and Music to develop the next generation of arts leaders for the country. The 2019-20 year has the program’s third cohort participating in academic work as well as in practicum placements in arts organizations across Canada.

“In 2019-20, we will nurture the inquiring spirit with a diversity of world-class established and emerging artists,” says says Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel. “At the Isabel, we all witness artistic excellence first-hand with artists who, through genius, inspiration, and hard work, shoot for the stars and take us beyond. This season we look forward to the Isabel debuts by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, pianists Jonathan Biss and Yefim Bronfman, jazz virtuoso Branford Marsalis, emerging star violinist Blake Pouliot, VOCES8, Akamus, OKAN, the Celtic juggernauts Braebach and Gaelic Storm, and more.”

SpiderWebShow’s foldA - Festival of Live Digital Arts will be presented in collaboration with the Isabel, the National Arts Centre, DAN School of Drama and Music, and the Department of Film and Media, and theatres and artists across Canada.

Bader and Overton Virtuosi Festival

  • Orchestral Virtuosity - Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with pianist Jan Lisiecki (Oct. 16)
  • Prodigious Virtuosity – Kingston’s Leonid Nediak, piano (Oct. 29)
  • Chamber Music Virtuosity - Fine Arts Quartet and Stewart Goodyear, piano (Nov. 7)
  • Soul Virtuosity - Measha Brueggergosman (Nov. 12)
  • Virtuosic Tour de Force - The united performance of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and European Union Youth Orchestra (Nov. 13)
  • Virtuoso Pianist - Yefim Bronfman (Nov. 23)
  • Virtuoso Jazz - Branford Marsalis Quartet (March 6, 2020)

The Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival

The Isabel presents its 2020 Human Rights Arts Festival with inspiring artists on the forefront of social and political change for a just world.

“The role of the arts is especially important in interpreting the contemporary politics of identity that are fuel for the political right and left throughout the world. We don’t want a passive experience with the arts, as we don’t want passive citizens,” says Baldwin. “We need fully engaged and informed citizens with vision, imagination, and the urgency to act. As Jungian analyst Beverley Zabriskie states, ‘Imagination is a laboratory, not a fantasy, a flight, avoidance, or defense, but … a way station between what is and could be.’”

Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival events include:

  • Imagining Peace, Inspiring Action with Andy Rush, Artistic Director, Salil Subedi, Coco Love Alcorn, Brasswerks, Trillers A Capella, Kingston Youth Choir, and the Frontenac Skies Community Drummers (Nov. 11)
  • Safe Haven by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, a powerful multimedia exploration of the influence of refugee populations on music creation in the baroque era (Jan. 29, 2020)
  • All We Are Saying – a concert of protest music with the Art of Time Ensemble and Ralston String Quartet (Feb. 4, 2020)
  • The Mush Hole by Santee Smith - The Mush Hole acknowledges the lives and spirits of Mohawk Institute residential school survivors. It is about survival, resilience, and is an embodied way to say: “Enskwakhwahshón:rien” — we will feed your hunger, “kwè:iahre” — we remember you, and “kwanorónhkhwa” — we love you. (March 9, 2020)
  • Beautiful Scars by award-winning singer/songwriter Tom Wilson who will perform with the Kingston Symphony. The National Arts Centre originally commissioned this work. “My truth was hidden from me … and finally I’m becoming a Mohawk man,” Tom Wilson states. (April 8, 2020)
  • The premiere of H’art Centre’s Notice the Small Things with 50 remarkable Kingston artists of different abilities. (April 17 and 18, 2020)
  • Human rights film festival (February and March 2020), and Queen’s student initiatives.

YGK Emerging Kingston Musician Competition

The Isabel partners with Claire Bouvier and Aaron Holmberg in the creation of the biennial YGK Emerging Musicians Competition. This competition seeks to inspire and support Kingston’s rising musical talent, and provide excellent tools for a musical career launch.

Who can apply? Kingston’s emerging musicians who are Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada who reside in the City of Kingston or within 25 kilometres of Kingston’s borders, and who aspire to a professional concert career. Aspiring musicians of all cultural and music genre backgrounds are both welcome and encouraged to apply. This competition is for artists with one to five musicians in their band/ensemble. Finalists will be able to create a professional recording and film of a work of their choice at the Isabel to boost their online profile, and will have a professional media kit created for them.

Bader and Overton Canadian Cello Competition

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts’ mandate is to support the development of outstanding young talent. The Isabel created the Bader and Overton Canadian Cello Competition to inspire excellence and to provide performance experience and career development opportunities for Canada’s top cellists 18 to 29 years old. This Competition will inspire and assist excellent Canadian cellists who aspire to a concert career on the national and international stage. The grand prize includes a $20,000 award with an opportunity to perform a concerto with the Kingston Symphony, as well as a recital at the Isabel recorded and broadcast coast-to-coast by CBC Music. The Isabel has commissioned a new work by Marjan Mozetich for the competition, and the Isabel Quartet will participate in the chamber music portion of the competition. This triennial competition follows the inaugural 2017 Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition.

To see the full 2019-20 schedule, visit The Isabel’s website.

A Rembrandt to remember

Rarely-seen masterpiece gifted to Queen’s art museum in memory of honoured alumnus Alfred Bader.

Rembrandt's "Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair".
Daniel and Linda Bader recently gifted Rembrandt's Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen's, in honour of Daniel's late father and Queen's alumnus, Alfred Bader.

Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University will unveil Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair – a 1659 painting by legendary Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, rarely seen by the public. Linda and Daniel Bader recently donated the piece to the museum in memory of Daniel’s late father and Queen’s alumnus, Alfred Bader. Dr. Bader, chemist, entrepreneur, visionary philanthropist, and discerning collector of art, passed away last December. His 95th birthday would have been on April 28, 2019.

Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair was one of my father’s favourite paintings,” says Daniel Bader. “It hung in his living room, where he spent hours admiring it, until he gave it to me in 2001. My wife Linda and I are proud to present this beautiful painting to Queen’s in my father’s honour.”

Alfred and Isabel Bader previously donated three Rembrandt paintings to the Agnes:

Rembrandt's "Man with Arms Akimbo"
Man with Arms Akimbo


Rembrandt's "Head of an Old Man in a Cap
Head of an Old Man in a Cap


Rembrandt's "Head of a Man in Turban
Head of a Man in Turban


With the addition of this remarkable gift to the Agnes, Queen’s University is now home to four of seven Rembrandt paintings in public Canadian collections. Head of Old Man with Curly Hair joins three of the painter’s acclaimed works previously donated by Alfred and Isabel Bader in 2003, 2007, and 2015. It also becomes the latest addition to the Agnes’s Bader Collection, which comprises over 200 paintings spanning the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, with a focus on Dutch and Flemish paintings of the Baroque era. Together, the collection reflects Rembrandt’s sphere of artistic influence.

“This donation by Linda and Daniel Bader is an extraordinary gesture,” says Jacquelyn N. Coutré, Bader Curator and Researcher of European Art at the Agnes. “Not only is the work an exquisite rendering of old age and light that complements the three Rembrandt paintings in The Bader Collection, but its presentation to the Agnes honours Alfred’s memory in a tremendously appropriate manner. I am so pleased that this painting will be here to enrich possibilities for learning and discovery.”

The Rembrandt gift further advances the Agnes’s mission as a research-intensive art museum that provides experiential learning opportunities for Queen’s students across the university. Students and faculty of all disciplines at the university engage with The Bader Collection to build knowledge and seek inspiration through original works of art rather than reproductions. Even students in nursing and rehabilitation therapy have made use of the collection for study and research.

“Not only does the donation of this piece broaden the cultural and academic opportunities Queen’s offers its students and researchers, it speaks volumes about the deep, meaningful relationships our institution strives to build with those who spend time here,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Drs. Alfred and Isabel Bader have made incalculable contributions to our university, and we are delighted that their love for Queen’s has inspired Daniel, and his wife Linda, to make such a meaningful gift to honour that legacy.”

Agnes will publicly debut Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair on Friday, May 3, 2019 at their season opening event. There, Agnes director Jan Allen will discuss the painting’s addition to the collection, and share the museum’s deep gratitude for the contributions of the Bader family.

“This painting extends the impact of The Bader Collection at Queen’s in powerful ways,” says Ms. Allen. “Thanks to the generosity and thoughtfulness of Linda and Daniel Bader, this outstanding work will be available for present and future generations.”

Agnes is a globally-networked art museum, which is home to significant, high-quality collections. In addition to The Bader Collection, collections include concentrations in contemporary art, Canadian historical art, and smaller holdings of African art, Indigenous art, and historical dress. Starting on August 24 and running until December 1, the Bader Gallery will host Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges, an exhibition about the artist's early career and influences. The exhibition will travel the country with stops at the Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), the MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina), and the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Hamilton), until May 2021.

Learn more about the Bader collection and the newly gifted Rembrandt on the Agnes’s website.

Four launches and an unveiling

    LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX, BB: Grace Rosario Perkins, Running Towards the Sun, 2016-2017. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Barrett/315 Gallery.
    ANY SAINT: EMILY PELSTRING: Emily Pelstring, Scrying Mirror, 2019, cut mirror and glass-plate hologram. Collection of the artist.
  • Noah Quinuayark, Hawk(e)/ Hawk and Prey, 1961
    PUVIRNITUQ GRAPHIC ARTS IN THE 1960s: Noah Quinuayark, Hawk(e)/ Hawk and Prey, 1961, stonecut on paper. Gift of Margaret McGowan (Arts’78), 2017 (60-003.01) Photo: Bernard Clark
  • Zandra Rhodes, Dress, 1973–1976, silk. Gift of Sylvia Gillespie-Keyl, 1999 (C99-001.01). Photo: Bernard Clark
    STEPPING OUT: CLOTHES FOR A GALLERY GOER: Zandra Rhodes, Dress, 1973–1976, silk. Gift of Sylvia Gillespie-Keyl, 1999 (C99-001.01). Photo: Bernard Clark

Four new exhibitions will be celebrated during the Spring-Summer Season launch reception at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Friday, May 3.

Visitors will be among the first to experience the raw, open, and playfully discursive Let’s Talk About Sex, bb; the imaginatively staged Stepping Out: Clothes for a Gallery Goer; the immersive media world of Kingston artist Emily Pelstring’s Any Saint; and the research-rich Puvirnituq Graphic Arts in the 1960s.

There will also be a special art-unveiling in The Bader Gallery.

The Members’ Preview is scheduled for  5-6 pm and will be followed by a public reception from 6-7:30 pm.

This group exhibition, curated by Carina Magazzeni and Erin Sutherland, features new works, collaborative installations, performances, workshops, poetry, and film-based explorations that combine to create a narrative that expands the possibilities of sexual sociality. Let’s Talk About Sex, bb brings sex to the table to encourage open and raw conversations about our relationships to our own and each other’s bodies.

Artists featured in this show include G H Y Cheung, Thirza Cuthand, Dayna Danger, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Gesig Isaac, Anique Jordan, Kablusiak, Ness Lee, Dan Cardinal McCartney, Grace Rosario Perkins, Tiffany Shaw-Collinge, and Arielle Twist.

Gallery-going emerged as a public pleasure in Canada in the late 19th century and continues to be an engaging cultural activity. Stepping Out proposes outfits and accessories that one might wear to an art museum. Drawing upon the Queen’s University Collection of Canadian Dress, the exhibition features clothing, from the 1860s to 1970s, stepping through gallery spaces and intermingling with contemporaneous works of art. Talented unknown dressmakers are highlighted alongside Canadian and international designers such as El Jamon, Elsie Densem, Jonathan Logan, and Zandra Rhodes. From walking sticks and moody landscapes to mod dresses and video art, many objects are on view for the first time.

The exhibition is curated by Alicia Boutilier, with Carolyn Dowdell, Deirdre Macdonald, Elaine MacKay, and Sophia Zweifel.

Stepping Out will be accompanied by a digital publication, launching in fall 2019, with feature texts on select garments by writers, curators and historians who have a history of working with the Queen’s University Collection of Canadian Dress.

Summoned from slow shimmering animations, mystic beings emerge amid other barely-restrained spirits. Curated by Sunny Kerr, this solo exhibition by Emily Pelstring is a space for immersive, transformative viewing made with outmoded imaging technologies and simple special effects. With Any Saint, Pelstring refines her approach to DIY aesthetics, performance experimentation and humour to evoke mythic narratives, dispersing them across installation, animation and hologram.

Pelstring is a Kingston-based media artist whose work has been shown internationally in galleries, film festivals and music festivals, including Transmediale Berlin, Seoul International New Media Festival and L’Alternativa Independent Film Festival Barcelona. She teaches in the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s.

Bold and immediate, Inuit prints captivated the 1960s art world. The second community to initiate a print program in the Eastern Arctic was Puvirnituq, Nunavik. Featuring works on paper donated by Margaret McGowan (Artsci’78), Puvirnituq Graphic Arts in the 1960s shows the early years of printmaking in the community, including rare experimental prints made before its inaugural annual collection of 1962. Although printmaking in the community was discontinued in 1989, the images by Juanisialuk Irqumia, Leah Qumaluk, and other artists (eight in the exhibition) left an indelible mark.

The exhibition is curated by Alysha Strongman under the supervision of Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous Art and Material Culture Norman Vorano as part of the Research Studentship in Indigenous Art.


To Aug. 5, 2019: Rome, Capital of Painting
To April 12, 2020: The Art of African Ivory

Personal truths exposed

  • Biba Esaad
    Biba Esaad's thesis work "explores the way in which materiality (and subsequently, the meaning) of historic mediums, like oil paint, can be altered depending on their built environment, surrounding installation and more broadly speaking, aesthetic and spatial relationship."
  • Claudia Zilstra
    Through costume-making, Claudia Zilstra "explores her reproductive health, and what it means to be feminine in society today."
  • Jessica Lanziner
    Jessica Lanziner's thesis work "investigates the way that the abandoned becomes reclaimed through the passage of time and the process of decay."
  • Makayla Thompson
    Makayla Thompson's art "depicts scenes of peaceful animals attempting to live among the only species which destroys on such a large scale, knowingly, and with little to no regard for consequence - humans."

The culmination of years of study, creativity, and hard work is on display this week as the graduating class from the Fine Art (Visual Art) program hosts its annual year-end exhibition.

Ontario Hall has been transformed into an art gallery for Exposed: BFA 19, featuring the work of 24 graduating students. The exhibition started on Sunday, April 21 and continues to Saturday, April 27.

There is an impressive range and depth of artwork on display throughout the historic building, from multimedia installations and paintings to sculpture and prints, and much more.

The exhibition is open to the public and provides a temporary escape right on campus.

Exposed is open 9 am-4 pm daily. The closing reception will be held on Saturday, April 27 at 6 pm in Ontario Hall.

To learn more about the exhibition and the artists, visit the Exposed: BFA 19 website.

More information about the Fine Art (Visual Art) program is available online.

Reconstructing the life of an object

Lorna Rowley speaks with Master of Conservation graduate students while Vanessa Nicholas examines a shawl from the collection through a microscope. Photo: Garrett Elliott
Lorna Rowley speaks with Master of Conservation graduate students while Vanessa Nicholas uses a microscope to examine a shawl from the Queen’s Collection of Canadian Dress. (Photo: Garrett Elliott)

Research on the provenance, style, and material of the oldest garment in Queen’s Collection of Canadian Dress – a Regency-style day dress once in Agnes Etherington’s possession – has taken Vanessa Nicholas (BFA’07) and Lorna Rowley, the 2019 Isabel Bader Fellow and Graduate Intern in Textile Conservation and Research, on a journey from the Cataraqui Cemetery to the colonial United States, and has piqued their interest in fashionable florals and silk worms.

The dress is one of four garments – along with another dress and two shawls – in the collection that are the focus of the 2019 fellowship project. Each of the garments has been subjected to historical and scientific analysis with the aim of determining their provenance and materials.

“These garments and accessories all pre-date Confederation, and our oldest case study is a silk day dress made in a style that dates to the early 19th century” says Nicholas, a PhD candidate in the Department of Visual Art and Art History at York University, who has an Master's of Arts from the Courtauld Institute of Art and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Queen’s. “Curiously, the dress’s silk likely dates to the 1770s or 1780s, and we have synthesized genealogy, fashion history and lab results to reconstruct the life of this object.”

This research will be contextualized within environmental history, which studies the relations between human culture and the natural world.

In residence until the end of April at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the Master of Art Conservation Program at Queen’s, Nicholas and Rowley have been sharing their expertise with conservation students through workshops and discussions, as well as consulting with other conservators and professionals in the field about their research.

Rowley holds an MPhil in Textile Conservation from the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History, University of Glasgow, and a BA in the History of Art and Design from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, with a specialty in embroidery.

The two will present an insider art talk to the public on their research into some of the oldest materials in the Queen's Collection of Canadian Dress as part of the INSIDE AGNES: Music and Art Series on Sunday April 14, 2-3:30 pm. Admission is free, and all are welcome.

The Isabel Bader Fellowship in Textile Conservation and Research is a four-month residency and research opportunity that promotes investigation in textile conservation and costume history. Through the generous support of Dr. Isabel Bader, the fellowship links two of Queen’s University’s  unique resources: the Queen’s University Collection of Canadian Dress at the Agnes, which comprises more than 2,000 articles of fashion from the late 1700s to the 1970s, and the Master of Art Conservation Program, which offers Canada’s only graduate degree in conservation theory and treatment.

For more information, contact Kate Yüksel, Communications Coordinator at 343-333-5478 or kate.yuksel@queensu.ca.

Wellness through creativity

Art Hive @Agnes offers young adults the opportunity to relax, recharge, and expand their creative powers within a studio setting.

  • Arts educator and certified art therapist Harper Johnston speaks with one of the participants
    Arts educator and certified art therapist Harper Johnston speaks with one of the participants of Art Hive @Agnes, hosted at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Art Hive @Agnes offers participants a chance to relax, recharge, and expand their creative powers within a studio setting.
    Art Hive @Agnes offers young adults (ages 18-24) a chance to relax, recharge, and expand their creative powers within a studio setting. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Art Hive @Agnes participant drawing
    As part of the Art Hive @ Agnes program, a team of Queen’s graduate students will create surveys, track data, and present findings in a final report. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Art Hive @Agnes participant creating
    Art Hive @Agnes is a weekly drop-in art and wellness program for young adults (18-24) currently being held at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

Art and wellness is the focus of a new weekly drop-in program for young adults (18-24) at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre

Facilitated by arts educator and certified art therapist Harper Johnston, Art Hive @Agnes offers participants a chance to relax, recharge, and expand their creative powers within a studio setting. The free sessions are being held at the Agnes 4-6 pm each Thursday until March 28. No prior art experience is necessary and materials are provided.

“Artmaking is innately therapeutic. We know this from the outstanding amount of positive research being reported today,” says Shannon Brown, Program Coordinator at the Agnes. “The idea that everyone is creative and can draw from their own personal expression to process and support inner transformation towards health is being embraced by those in healthcare and among the general public. When we step into a flow state, which happens when people are focused on an enjoyable task such as artmaking, blood pressure lowers, experiences of pain and worry drop away and personal agency is activated. Add to this a supportive community, such as an Art Hive community, and the participants can work side by side and share hopes and fears, gain acceptance and be witnessed in the creative act of artmaking and healing. It’s a beautiful process and we are grateful to be able to offer this special creative environment to the young adults of Kingston. “

As part of the program here, Michelle Searle, an assistant professor of the Assessment and Evaluation Group at Queen’s, will be overseeing an evaluation team made up of Queen’s graduate students. The team will create surveys, track data, and present findings in a final report. The purpose of these evaluations is to document the benefits of Art Hive, measure the attainment of the program goals, and evaluate the needs of participants to further improve the program.

The Art Hive @Agnes program aligns with the university’s increasing focus on the health and wellness of the Queen’s community. Earlier this year Queen’s adopted the Okanagan Charter and, in November, launched the Campus Wellness Project with the aim of advancing, encouraging, and supporting a culture of wellbeing.

“In today’s times where students are needing increasing amounts of mental health supports, it is important for them to have access to various types of therapeutic outlets and opportunities,” says Rina Gupta, Director, Counselling, Queen’s University. “Traditional counselling can be very helpful in times of uncertainty, but not all students feel comfortable talking about their concerns and/or negative experiences. The idea of being able to offer students the opportunity to express themselves through creativity and art is fantastic as it acknowledges the holistic needs of individuals. We fully support the Art Hive @Agnes project and we will be the first to refer students to it. We also look forward to future collaborations with the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, as we view art therapy as being a valuable addition to the mental health resources available to Queen’s students.”

Outreach partnerships supporting Art Hive @Agnes include: Counselling Services at Student Wellness Services; the Alma Mater Society Peer Support Centre; Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Queen’s Faith and Spiritual Life Services.

For information about the Campus Wellness Project and to learn about other consultation opportunities, visit the project website or contact Project Lead Jennifer Ross at campuswellness@queensu.ca.

Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts brings top artists to The Isabel

[Jeremy Dutcher]
Jeremy Dutcher, winner of the 2018 Polaris Prize, will be performing at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts during the Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts. (Supplied Photo) 

The inaugural Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts, curated by Queen’s Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts Dylan Robinson, is being hosted at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts from Feb. 12 to March 24.

Supported by the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund, A Bader Philanthropy, the Ka’tarohkwi Festival is an exciting multi-disciplinary blaze of Indigenous creativity at the Isabel celebrating the music, film, dance, multimedia, theatre, visual art, and virtual reality stories from the top Indigenous creators in Canada.

]Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts]
Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts

“ts’áts’eltsel xwoyíwel tel sqwálewel kw’els me xwe’í sq’ó talhlúwep! We gather together to experience this exceptional work by Indigenous artists from near and far,” says Dr. Robinson.  “This festival draws its name from the Huron and Mohawk word for the lands we gather on – Ka’tarohkwi. And as a xwelmexw (Stó:lō) guest here, I am grateful to the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people for their leadership, and for these lands that sustain us and the creative work that is part of the festival.”

The festival includes top artists from across Canada such as such as Jeremy Dutcher, Tanya Tagaq, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Monique Mojica, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Dean Hunt, Digging Roots, Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen, and Tanya Lukin LinklaterThe Festival celebrates the creation of new works, and includes world premieres in the Wani’/Lost and Niiganni-Gichigami. Ontiatarío. Lake Ontario programs.

The festival film series is presented in collaboration with imagineNATIVE film festival and the Department of Film and Media. Filmmakers include Stephen Campanelli with a film inspired by Anishinaabe writer Richard Wagamese, Terril Calder, Jay Cardinal Villenneuve, Asinnajaq, Sean Stiller, Asia Youngman, Caroline Monnet, Zoe Hopkins, and Lisa Jackson.

“These prominent artists demonstrate the vibrancy of Indigenous arts today, and to these artists I say, ‘You have power, you have a voice. Raise your voice to be sure the people hear you,’” says Associate Vice- Principal, Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill).

The Isabel presents the virtual reality installation BIIDAABAN: FIRST LIGHT VR, March 17-25, created by Lisa Jackson, Mathew Borrett, Jam3, and the National Film Board of Canada, and hosts RESURGENT VOICES: Indigenous Oration and Aurality on Sunday, March 24, 4-6 pm where Geraldine King and Beth Piatote explore the sonic impact of Indigenous oration.

The Festival is affiliated with SOUNDINGS: An Exhibition in Five Parts at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, curated by Candice Hopkins and Dylan Robinson, that includes newly-commissioned ‘scores’ by artists including Tania Willard, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Raven Chacon, Cristobal Martinez, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Olivia Whetung, Peter Morin, and Ogimaa Mikana,  and a speakers’ series, entitled “Against Hungry Listening.” The exhibition is accompanied by a specially commissioned book of scores designed by Sebastien Aubin.

“The arts are a powerful voice in our society, and the profound messages from these outstanding Indigenous artists transformative. The Isabel is honoured to collaborate with curator Dylan Robinson and all the artists involved for their originality and creativity in bringing this festival to fruition, as we are to work with the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre, imagineNATIVE, and Queen’s Department of Film and Media as affiliated collaborators,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “We are grateful to our benefactors, the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund, A Bader Philanthropy. This is especially poignant right now, as the late Alfred Bader, a man dedicated to artistic excellence and justice in this world, continues to inspire us forward."

View the Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts schedule or visit The Isabel website.

Festival passes and individual tickets are available through the Isabel Box Office, 613-533-2424 (Monday-Friday, 12:30-4:30 pm), and online at queensu.ca/theisabel.


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