It feels like the sort of art show Hannah Gadsby would love, an antidote to the male-focused visual histories the comedian spent ample time dismantling in her 2018 breakout special, Nanette: This women’s history month, the National Gallery of Canada is highlighting what it bills as “a lesser known chapter of art history”—that is, the many contributions made to modern art by women—with the exhibition Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists In The Modern Moment.
The Ottawa venue’s latest showcase—on view all March long—skips across medium from photography to quillwork. It also features three prominent Nova Scotian women: Bridget Anne Sack, Elizabeth Styring Nutt and Selena Irene Sparks Drummond. Baskets made by Drummond, an African Nova Scotian who lived in Cherry Brook, are on display alongside quill boxes by Shubenacdie’s Bridget Anne Sack. Elizabeth Styring Nut—who led NSCAD from 1919 to 1943—is another Nova Scotian featured in the showcase: Her watercolours and landscapes remain renowned.
“The inspiration for Uninvited arose from an awareness of the skewed narratives of Canadian art history as it has been traditionally told, a narrative that has long overlooked artistic production by women, and by Indigenous women particularly, during the heyday of the Group of Seven,” (Who, FYI are the male, Ontario-based landscape painters that remain a bread-and-butter story of art history in public school—kind of The Beatles of Canadian painting, perhaps), offers a statement on the showcase from The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, which created the exhibition that the NGC is showing. “While the Group of Seven and their associates primarily focussed on landscape painting, the women in Uninvited examined urban life, portraiture, industrial landscapes and the lives of people who were marginalized in the nation’s relentless march to modernity.”
In all, 300 works by Canadian women from across the 1900s comprise Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists In The Modern Moment.