Using art to explore the role of animals in the Anthropocene era

Some of the works appearing in Animals Across Discipline, Time and Space. Colleen Plumb, Flamingo (left), Kathryn Eddy, The Urban Wild Coyote Project (top right), Mary Anne Barkhouse, Red Rover (bottom right)

Animals Across Discipline, Time & Space, a new exhibition at the McMaster Museum of Art, brings together works by five North American artists who use animal imagery to critically address how animals — including humans — interact with the world around us.

The exhibition was conceived and curated by McMaster history professor Tracy McDonald following a 2018 workshop she led that focused on human and nonhuman animals. Discussions revealed a clear connection among art, activism, the environment and animals, and inspired her to reach out to Carol Podedworny at the museum of art.

History professor Tracy McDonald (right) and McMaster Museum of Art director and chief curator Carol Podedworny

“This exhibition addresses animals and their fates in our current climate and at our hands,” says McDonald. “The artists engage matters of colonialism, urban versus wild, extinction, pollution, livestock and the many outlandish impositions we burden nonhuman animals with for our own perceived needs and gains.”

Animals Across Discipline, Time & Space shares concerns with the 2018-2019 Anthropocene exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada.

“We need to see animals and the environment as a single integrated whole,” adds McDonald.

Animals Across Discipline, Time & Space includes sculptural installations inside and outside of the museum by Mary Anne Barkhouse, the interactive Urban Wild Coyote Project installation by Kathryn Eddy, large scale drawings by Erica Gajewski, a video installation by Hamilton-based artist Derek Jenkins and selected photographs by Colleen Plumb from her series Animals Are Outside Today.

McMaster Museum of Art acting preparator Matt Walker (left) and history professor Tracy McDonald, with Kathryn Eddy’s work Urban Wild Coyote Project

The exhibition is on view January 4 – March 21, 2020 and is complemented by a 26-page publication/guide with essays by Mandy-Suzanne Wong.

McDonald has also organized an interdisciplinary conference Animals Across Discipline, Time & SpaceMarch 19-21, 2020 at McMaster University.  

The conference and exhibition are supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Socrates Project, the Faculty of Humanities Dean’s Office, and the Wilson Institute for Canadian History.

Opening Reception:
  Thursday, January 16, 2020, 6 – 8 p.m.
Artist Panel: Thursday, March 19, 2020, 6 – 8 p.m.
Conference:  March 19-21, 2020 at McMaster University.

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