THEY CALL Canada the Great White North for our snowy landscapes, but who’s to say the moniker doesn’t represent a blank canvas upon which artists might produce their next masterpiece? This summer, two art exhibits highlight both homegrown Canuck creativity and the allure of our nation as a hub of artistic inspiration.
B.C. author and multimedia artist Douglas Coupland has interpreted Canadiana-as-art for years, but the 56-year-old takes the premise a step further with The National Portrait. Created in partnership with Quebec retailer Simons, the exhibit is the result of a twoyear trek during which Coupland’s team scanned the heads of 1,700 Canadian sand printed them as three-dimensional busts. “For the first time in history,” he said, “we can be carefree with human busts in the same way photography allowed us to be carefree with flat portraiture.” The show features 1,000 of the busts in various sizes with some using anamorphosis, which distorts the bust so that the viewer’s perception changes when they view it from different angles. (The National Portrait, Ottawa Art Gallery, June 29-Aug. 19. oag gao.ca)
Meanwhile, the Lieutenant-Governor’s Suite at Queen’s Park in Toronto hosts a collection of Canadian artwork and photography that serves as a call to action for environmentalism and UN sustainability goals in Canada. Awakening, an ongoing exhibit curated by renowned Canadian architect and designer Bruce Mau on behalf of the provincial lieutenant-governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell (who has a long history as an environmental champion), evokes ideas of how we interact with, and shape, our nation’s landscapes and how we can preserve them. And while Her Honour hopes the exhibit inspires all visitors, the 73-year-old suggests the boomer generation can play a crucial role in the sustainability cause.
“If you could harness the wisdom, the intelligence, the lived experience that that generation has,” she told Zoomer, “it would be wonderful.” (Awakening, arts.lg ontario.ca/awakening-eveil) — MC
1 A Banksy smiley face soldier with wings 2 Printing a 3-D bust ahead of Douglas Coupland’s The National Portrait
3 Eleanor Bond’s IV Converting the Powell River Mill to a Recreation and Retirement Centre, part of Awakening 1 2 3