Convoluted Beauty: In the Company of Emily Carr

Lisa Baldissera, Vinciane Despret and Erika Dyck

Mendel Art Gallery
112 pp col. ill. 10.75 x 8.25 softcover
$25.00 Can. $30.00 U.S.
October 2014

convoluted.jpgspacerEmily Carr (1871-1945) is acclaimed for being one of the first Canadian painters to forge a modernist, post-impressionist style. In 1899 Carr traveled to the United Kingdom precisely to study art, determined to expand her creative vision. Instead, her time there proved to be a challenging ordeal, culminating in an 18-month hospitalization with the diagnosis of “hysteria.” This difficult period became a formative point in her career, one where she resolutely declared her own personal and artistic identity. Focusing on these critical London years, this multi-faceted publication explores notions of the artistic imaginary and artistic identity. Scholarly essays touch on a variety of critical frameworks such as the theme of exile, the concept of hysteria and the psychoanalytic clinic, and the notion of “unproductivity” in creative work.

Integrated into the publication are works by major international artists who examine Carr’s legacy on these and other fronts. Thomas Zipp (Germany) considers the generative qualities of trauma and mental illness, as well as the idea of the artist as self-healer. Karen Tam (Canada) explores Carr’s friendship with Chinese artist Lee Nam. Marianne Nicolson (Canada) reflects on issues of ecology and neo-colonialism. Joanne Bristol (Canada) creates a newspaper and “composition” for birds. A sound installation by Louise Lawler (USA) acknowledges Carr’s special relationship to animals and offers a critique of the structures of the art world. Cedric and Nathan Bomford (Canada) provide a response to the architecture of the clinic. Mark Wallinger (UK) conjures up a psychic portal and the idea of “crossing over” into unknown territory. Brought together, this compendium of critical research and artistic response examines the challenges faced by a woman who sought her own personal and artistic voice.

Lisa Baldissera is Chief Curator at The Mendel Art Gallery. Erika Dyck is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in History of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan. Vinciane Despret is Professor of Philosophy, University of Liège, Belgium.

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