"Pressing for Progress" by Filling in the Gaps of the Historical Record

On this International Women’s Day we’re gearing up for Regarding Mary, a brand new exhibit by Marlena Wyman that is scheduled to open March 10th.

I could not be more thankful, proud, or giddy to be hosting Marlena’s work in our Space this season! (Truth be told, I have been a big fan of hers for some time now, ever since a fellow Bleeding Heart recommended her blog to me.)

Marlena has served on the board of the Women’s Art Museum Society of Canada and worked as the Audio/Visual Archivist at the Provincial Archives of Alberta for 28 years. She has always created art, even when she was a single mom and working full-time.

She is a strong advocate for the contributions of women, and her artwork illuminates the stories and struggles of the prairie women that came before her. In her statement for Regarding Mary, she writes: “In my former work as an archivist, I found that one of the significant gaps in archival collections and in mainstream history is that of women’s stories, especially early prairie women. As an artist, I advocate for their rightful place in history, and encourage women to deposit their own and their foremothers’ records in archives.”

In Regarding Mary, Marlena draws connections between images of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the experiences of early prairie mothers. The exhibition is comprised of a trinity of collections: Prairie Madonna – women’s historical accounts, and paintings that reference early masterworks; Mary Star of the Sea – portraits of Mary inspired by cemetery statues; and Our Lady of Thrift, which Marlena describes as “a shrine or Lady Chapel of sorts.” I am anticipating that, together, these artworks, objects, and true stories from women’s history will create a space for reflection and enlightenment.

Coincidentally, Marlena has another exhibit currently on display: Illuminating the Diary of Alda Dale Randall, at the Okotoks Art Gallery, until April 7, 2018. I’ll leave you with this quote from the diary of Alda Dale Randall from 1920:

I know, no more than you, how this story is coming out but I shall write it day by day and we shall see what we shall see with a wee bit of prayer that it may be brave and bright.      

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