Sep 24, 2013
Ottawa, September 24, 2013 – The Canada Council for the Arts York Wilson Endowment Award was given to the University of Manitoba’s School of Art Gallery to purchase Robert Houle’s Sandy Bay Residential School Series.
Robert Houle created 24 works over a period of a month as a way to come to terms with his memories from his time at the residential school. Created almost automatically, it was Houle’s body that remembered and in turn revealed these powerful images. The series celebrates his survival of abuse and the ability to overcome and let go of his sadness.
“The Canada Council is delighted that the 2013 York Wilson Endowment Award will make it possible for all Canadians to view this powerful work by Robert Houle and the story it reveals,” said Robert Sirman, Canada Council Director and CEO. “We congratulate both the University of Manitoba’s School of Art Gallery and Mr. Houle for this exciting development.”
Download images of the work.
Each year, the York Wilson Endowment Award is given to an eligible Canadian art museum or public gallery to help it purchase work by a Canadian artist that will significantly enhance its collection. Created in 1997 through a generous donation by Lela Wilson and Maxwell Henderson, it honours the contribution of Canadian painter York Wilson (1907-1984) by encouraging and promoting works of art created by Canadian painters or sculptors. Greg Hill (Ottawa), Timothy Long (Regina) and Elizabeth Wylie (Kelowna) formed the 2013 peer assessment committee.
The acquisition of this body of work is of utmost importance for the School of Art Gallery. Not only does it mark the transition of the Gallery to a new prominent location at the Art Research Technology lab (ARTlab), it provides rich potential for connections to be made both inside and outside the university community. The purchase will coincide with the School of Art’s 100th anniversary and the agreement with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to host the National Research Centre on Residential Schools at the University of Manitoba. The School of Art Gallery is an active partner with the Department of Native Studies and the Executive Lead of Aboriginal Excellence.
Robert Houle is an Anishnabe artist, curator, critic and educator who has played a significant role in shaping indigenous art history. He has been exhibiting since the early 1970's. His most recent exhibition, Paris/Ojibwa, toured in Canada and was also shown at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris. Robert Houle: enuhmo andúhyaun (the road home) was the inaugural exhibition of the School of Art Gallery which opened in September 2012.
Houle was the first curator of Contemporary Indian Art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization from 1977 to 1980. He has co-curated groundbreaking exhibitions such as New Work by a New Generation (1982) at the Mackenzie Art Gallery and Land, Spirit, Power: First Nations at the National Gallery of Canada (1992). He received the Janet Braide Memorial Award for Excellence in Canadian Art History (1993), Toronto Arts Award (2001), Eiteljorg Fellowship (2003), Distinguished Alumnus University of Manitoba (2004) and a Canada Council International Residency program grant for the visual arts in Paris (2006). In Canada, Houle is represented by Galerie Nicolas Robert in Montreal and Kinsman Robinson Galleries in Toronto, where he now lives.
The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s national arts funder. Its grants to artists and organizations contribute to a vibrant arts scene in Canada. Its awards celebrate creativity by recognizing exceptional Canadians in the arts, humanities and sciences. The Canada Council Art Bank is a national collection of over 17,000 Canadian contemporary artworks – all accessible to the public through rental, loan and outreach programs. The Canadian Commission for UNESCO operates under the general authority of the Canada Council.