One of Canada’s most beloved folk artists, Maud Lewis (1903–1970) was famous in her lifetime for her brightly coloured and endearing paintings of rural Nova Scotia. Working from her cabin on the side of the highway in Marshalltown, in Digby County, she produced hundreds of small works that captured aspects of country life that were rapidly changing.
Until now, the story of her difficult life has dominated the discussion of her art: her triumph over her physical disabilities and poverty, the harsh treatment she received at the hands of her family, and her alliance by chance with her husband Everett Lewis, who enabled her successful painting career over many decades. This show, however, will stress the aesthetic aspect of Maud Lewis’s achievement, looking carefully at her serial repetition of images and motifs across her career, and the dizzying variety that she brings to the problem of picture-making. From her black cats and kittens to her cart horses and oxen hauling logs, to her quayside scenes of ships in port and the Maritime landscape in all seasons, Maud Lewis made paintings that still delight in their optimism and buoyant vitality.
The exhibition is made possible through loans from leading Nova Scotian private collections, and features many works never before seen in public museums.
This exhibition was organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada.
Ce projet est financé en partie par le gouvernement du Canada.
Sarah Milroy is the Chief Curator of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, and a vocal champion of Canadian art and artists. She was the co-founder of the Canadian Art Foundation and served as editor and publisher of Canadian Art magazine from 1991 to 1996. During her tenure, this magazine was recognized as Magazine of the Year in Canada. Next, Sarah Milroy covered major Canadian exhibitions and artists’ projects as the staff critic of The Globe and Mail from 2001 to 2011. Her essays have also been published in the Walrus and Border Crossings. She has been a prolific contributor to numerous books on art and scholarly catalogues. Among her many celebrated curatorial projects are: From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia (Dulwich Picture Gallery, UK, and Art Gallery of Ontario), and David Milne: Modern Painting (Dulwich Picture Gallery, UK, Vancouver Art Gallery and McMichael Canadian Art Collection).