In 2013, I was invited by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to create a new visual art installation that reflected on the work and life of Canadian painter Jock MacDonald. He was a member of the Painters Elevent, a group of groundbreaking Canadian abstract painters who exhibited together in the 1950s. Part of the core research for my exhibition came from content in a diary MacDonald kept while living on Nootka Island, BC in 1935 and 1936. In the summer of 2014 I travelled there, where I shot video that was used along with other objects to create an installation in the Mansion Rooms of AGGV. The exhibition, entitled Circumference and currently on view, is a portrait of the island with Jock MacDonald at the centre.
While the gallery was pleased with the exhibition, I was left feeling that I had perpetuated an ongoing erasure of the peoples that live on the island. Nootka has been and remains the home of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht but they were mostly absent from my exhibition. This concern was augmented by geographic and indigenous literatures I was reading for my upcoming geography comprehensive exams. In an unusual turn of events I attained permission from the curator Michelle Jacques, to change my installation in the middle of the exhibition period. I returned to Nootka this summer and shot a new set of videos to replace the originals. I have also invited two Port Alberti artists to stage interventions in the gallery space during the remainder of the exhibition.
For the Intersections talk I will discuss the challenges of representations of land in Canada across indigenous/non-indigenous perspectives using my experiences both as an exhibiting artist and as a PhD student.
Gwen MacGregor is a Toronto based installation artist who has exhibited extensively in Canada and Western Europe. She has artworks in the collections of The Art Gallery of Ontario, Oakville Galleries and Artbank. She received an Honours BA in Art History from York University, an MA in Human Geography from the University of Toronto, and is currently in the second year of the PhD in Human Geography.