Marlene Creates: Places, Paths, and Pauses
This retrospective exhibition, publication and national tour presents the works of leading Newfoundland-based environmental artist and poet Marlene Creates, offering viewers a comprehensive and immersive experience of nearly four decades of her unique activities.
Throughout her career, Creates has sensitively probed the relationship between human experience and the natural world, choosing a path that privileges the act over the artifact, the moment over the monument. From her early works that record her ephemeral actions in the land to her later explorations of poetry in situ in the boreal forest, and of photography as an active medium—where, for example, the rush of water over the lens transforms the artist’s own image—Creates leads us with an environmental and cultural consciousness to a greater understanding of the natural world and our “places” in it.
Although the natural environment—the land itself—has long been a central theme in Canadian art, Creates’s work holds a unique place within the genre. From her earliest ephemeral gestures in the land to her latest immersion in the boreal forest that surrounds her home, Creates’s projects have explored (as she puts it) “the idea of place—not as a geographical location but as a process that involves memory, multiple narratives, ecology, language, and both scientific and vernacular knowledge.” Central to her practice is her use of photography, not only as a documentary medium (as seen in the early series Paper, Stones and Water 1979-1985) but also as a means to expand our ideas about the land. Her diverse artistic activities also include mixed-media assemblage, video, sound, and, more recently, multi-disciplinary performances in the boreal forest.
Since the late 1970s, the work of Marlene Creates has been presented in over 350 solo and group exhibitions and screenings in every province and territory of Canada, as well as in Northwestern Europe, China, Japan and the USA. This retrospective exhibition has been organized to provide a detailed overview and critical assessment of her multi-faceted practice. In spite of the scale and breadth of Creates’ lengthy practice, her work is less familiar to Canadians than it deserves to be. The exhibition provides a rare opportunity to explore the range of her practice, and to locate it within larger critical, cultural and ecological contexts.
The exhibition opens at the Beaverbrook in September 2017; it then tours to Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax (February to May 2018), the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, PEI (summer 2018), and Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa (summer 2019). The national tour will conclude at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, St. John’s, NL, in October 2019, the artist’s home province.
Curators: Susan Gibson Garvey (independent curator; former Director/Curator, Dalhousie Art Gallery) and Andrea Kunard (Associate Curator of Photography, National Gallery of Canada).
This exhibition is organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, in partnership with Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax, with support of the Museums Assistance Program (MAP) of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Harriet Irving Endowment, the Scotiabank Artist Residency Program, the Province of New Brunswick, and the City of Fredericton.