Visually Speaking: Acadia’s Online Art Exhibition ALONE

By Anna Horsnell
(Begone, fiend! COVID-19 Artwork by Geoff Butler, 2020)

On February 10, the Acadia University Art Gallery launches its first ever online exhibition, entitled ALONE. This special project presents the artwork of over fifteen professional Nova Scotian artists responding or reflecting on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Featuring a robust online exhibition, catalogue, and complementary online programming, ALONE is curated by gallery director Dr. Laurie Dalton.

“Around the world museums and artists are documenting this pandemic; ALONE creates the opportunity for professional Nova Scotian artists to be part of this global dialogue through a curatorial project,” Dalton explains, ”We gratefully received over 50 applications from across the province. Of those selected for the exhibition, there is a varied approach of media and artistic practices. Some works are a direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic, while others take more nuanced approaches around the concept of solitude in their artistic and personal lives.”

This past year has taught us many things. One important skill has been how to adapt and evolve to meet the very real challenges we have all faced. Dalton agrees, “As a curator of a university gallery, and as a curator in general we often think about the relationship of artists, objects, and audiences. A central component, historically, has been the physical exhibition: the connections made between objects in an exhibition, the audience, the conversations that occur in the physical space. The original project iteration was going to be both a physical exhibition as well as related virtual/online programming. With the closure of the university campus to the general public this has posed a challenge for thinking about ways of engaging with and exhibiting works of art. As this project is timely, I did not want to further postpone the project so I made the decision to present the project digitally. This will be the first time the gallery has done this. I am exploring different software and online programs for the project and am excited to see the exhibition take shape!”

Other truths have been held up and brought into sharper focus perhaps. Dalton shares her thoughts: “Visual art is a powerful tool to understand this complex moment in time. I think the pandemic is another reminder of how important the arts are to community, to self, to well-being. There are so many examples of how the arts and artists have helped people through the pandemic, yet many artists and the arts are not properly funded in this province, in Canada, and globally. I would encourage us to support and celebrate artists in our communities, and pay them for their work.”

ALONE continues until April 13, 2021. This important exhibition is supported in part by a Harrison McCain Emerging Scholar Award. The full and varied program includes an online exhibition of all the artworks, along with explanatory text, a print catalogue, and related online programming in the forms of artist roundtables and other initiatives. The gallery is sharing updates on how to access the project on their website (gallery.acadiau.ca), as well as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can reach the gallery directly at artgallery@acadiau.ca, and on their website and social media channels.