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Tim Whiten, Respite, (detail), crushed resourced glass, wood, gel medium, aqua-resin, acrylic paint, Toni Hafkenscheid

Spring 2023 at the School of Art Gallery

February 6, 2023 — 

School of Art Gallery Spring 2023 Programming:

The Performance of Shadows

Erika DeFreitas, Betye Saar, and Tim Whiten
Curated by Lillian O’Brien Davis
February 16 to April 29, 2023
Reception: Thursday, February 16 | 5:00-8:00 pm
Main Gallery

The Performance of Shadows explores intuition as a condition of consciousness. This exhibition considers the expansiveness of three artists’ understanding of existence through various approaches to concepts of phenomenology, spirituality and political engagement.

Betye Saar’s assemblage work, which was increasingly influenced by her rising political consciousness beginning in the 1960s, consists of objects carrying their own history and meaning and are selected for their “ancestral, ritual, autobiographical, nostalgic and historical” aura. In Saar’s work, time is cyclical, linking the artist and viewers of her work with generations of people who came before them. Saar uses assemblage and found materials that link history and experiences— emotion and knowledge travel across time and back again.

Tim Whiten bridges material and spiritual experience that encourages “sensing” over “reading”. Whiten investigates consciousness and its role in the meaning constituting process. Whiten’s practice is informed by a deep generosity, connecting to others through the experience of his work.

Erika DeFreitas’ practice emphasizes process, the body and paranormal phenomena, using primarily lens-based media focused on feelings of love and loss. DeFreitas explores the miraculous as a way of considering that which is beyond our comprehension by bearing witness to testimonies of visions of the Virgin Mary. The divine feminine is a consistent presence in DeFreitas’ work, a connective energy passing through space and time.

Process is key to the works in the exhibition; all three artists embrace various manifestations of intuitive intelligence, working to connect with what lies beyond our immediate experience of reality. Objects and materiality function as transmitters for memory, experience, and consciousness. Meaning and significance cannot be fully experienced through objectivity alone – the artists in The Performance of Shadows nurture intuitive practices that expand our perception of the world.

The Performance of Shadows is the second of three exhibitions presented as part of the School of Art Gallery’s Visiting Curator Program. Launched in Summer 2021, this initiative supports curatorial research, exhibitions, events, and publications by emerging and established guest curators alike.

The Visiting Curator Program is a catalyst for international-calibre exhibitions and aims to play a vital role in defining contemporary art and its attendant discourses in the Prairies. It gives students, faculty, and other community members meaningful opportunities to engage with curators charting bold new trajectories in their field. Through a significant mentorship component, it aims to foster strong new voices in this discipline.

We are pleased to welcome Grace Deveney, Lillian O’Brien Davis, and Shalaka Jadhav as the program’s inaugural visiting curators. This program is generously supported by Michael F.B. Nesbitt.

Visual description of artworks available. The video is closed-captioned.

Public programming:

CRITIQUE SESSION: Tough Love with Guest Critic Lillian O’Brien Davis
Thursday, February 9, 2023 | 6:30-9:30 pm
MAWA, 611 Main Street 

WORKSHOP: Spirit Catcher
Monday, February 13, 2023 | 7:00-9:00 pm
364 ARTlab, 180 Dafoe Road

TALK: Curator Lillian O’Brien Davis on The Performance Of Shadows
Thursday, February 16, 2023 | 12:00-1:30 pm
368 ARTlab, 180 Dafoe Road 

WORKSHOP: Erika DeFreitas: compositions on a colourless blue
Tuesday, March 14, 2023 | 10:30 am-12:30 pm
1JustCity, 365 McGee Street

TALK: Erika Defreitas and Lillian O’Brien Davis
Thursday, March 16, 2023 | 12:00-1:30 pm
368 ARTlab, 180 Dafoe Road   


Grainy film still of Sarr sitting in her studio, surrounded by supplies and tools

Suzanne Bauman, Spirit Catcher: The Art of Betye Saar (still), 1977, film. Image courtesy of Suzanne Bauman Films.

Suzanne Bauman: Spirit Catcher: The Art of Betye Saar

Curated by Lillian O’Brien Davis, Visiting Curator 
February 16 to April 29, 2023
Lobby Gallery

Presented in dialogue with The Performance of Shadows, this 1977 documentary profiles the life and work of Betye Saar.  

Produced by WNET (New York Public Media), Spirit Catcher addresses Saar’s fascination with the mystical and the unknown, which merge with her social concerns as an African American woman.

For over six decades, Betye Saar has created assemblage works that explore the social, political, and economic underpinnings of America’s collective memory. She began her career at the age of 35 producing work that dealt with mysticism, nature and family. Saar’s art became political in the 1970’s namely with the assemblage The Liberation of Aunt Jemima in 1972. A pioneer of the Assemblage movement, the impact of Saar’s oeuvre on contemporary art has yet to be fully acknowledged or critically assessed. Saar is based in Los Angeles where she continues to produce work. 

Suzanne Bauman (1945-2022) was a producer, director, and writer of more than 80 documentary and drama films. Bauman earned a BA from Vassar College and an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film School, and taught at UCLA. Bauman’s work reflected her broad interests, addressing geopolitical, social, and environmental issues and the histories of global empires, cultural epochs, artistic movements, and the written word. She produced biographies of world leaders, artists, and other public figures and directed theatre productions, independent films, and short films for children. Her work has received numerous accolades, including a CINE Golden Eagle Award for Spirit Catcher, an Academy Award Nomination for Against Wind and Tide: A Cuban Odyssey (1981), and an Academy Award of Special Merit for La Belle Époque (1983).


Colourful organic sculpture, some held up by wooden dowels, sit on a table.

Aralia Maxwell, Installation View, On the Table, 2020, Acrylic on Wood – Various Sizes. BAM Gallery; Saskatoon, SK. Image courtesy of the artist.

Indeterminate Limits

Jesse Dyck, Madelyn Gowler, Keeley Haftner, Aralia Maxwell, and Rhayne Vermette
Curated by Scotland Cook, Young Canada Works Curatorial Assistant
February 10 to March 24, 2023
Reception: Thursday, February 16 | 5:00-8:00 pm
Collections Gallery 

Indeterminate Limits brings together five artists from the Canadian Prairies whose iterative practices blur the lines between figurative and abstract art. Featuring video, photography, painting, mixed media and craft, the exhibition involves artworks from a diverse selection of mediums which are created with similar modes of production. Indeterminate Limits considers labour and creation as one and the same; the works come together through intuitive processes and experimental techniques. Each artist has developed a personal and specific visual language that reflects their lived experiences while working within traditions of abstraction that often deemphasize the personal or political. 

In math, an indeterminate limit occurs when a set of functions approaches a limit and advances infinitely, never meeting it. Some examples of this would be zero divided by zero, or one to the power of infinity. Even as the expression approaches its limit, changes occur as it inches closer to that value. The same can be said for these artists, who are working the spaces between figurative and abstract art. As they overlay marks and media, using figurative works as raw materials in their pieces, they approach the aesthetic infinity of the non-representational. Their artworks also point to a future that is undetermined and without limits. They ask the question: in a world full of possibilities, why do we continue to go down the same paths that we have been traversing for so long? Why don’t we push toward an undetermined and more empathetic future? 

Presented with the support of the Government of Canada through the Young Canada Works program, Building Careers in Heritage.

Public programming:

Scotland Cook Curatorial Talk and Tour
Thursday, March 2, 2023
12:00-1:30 pm
368 ARTlab, 180 Dafoe Road 
Also, facilitated on Zoom and live-streaming on YouTube.

Direct Animation and Film Collage Workshop with Rhayne Vermette
Friday, March 10, 2023
12:00-4:00 pm 
360 ARTlab, 180 Dafoe Road

Send Dunes Performance
Thursday, March 23, 2023
7:00-8:00 pm
370 ARTlab, 180 Dafoe Road
Also, live-streaming on YouTube


About the School of Art Gallery

The School of Art Gallery is part of the University of Manitoba, School of Art. The University of Manitoba campuses are located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

We respect the Treaties that were made on these territories, we acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

The School of Art Gallery serves the School of Art, University of Manitoba, and broader communities by exhibiting and collecting contemporary and historical art addressing a range of practices and perspectives. Exhibitions and collections are complemented by engaging outreach programs and publications. 

We strive to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all. If there is anything we can do to make your visit – onsite, offsite, or online – more accessible, please let us know.

All exhibitions and programs are free


Funding and Support:

The School of Art Gallery is generously supported by the University of Manitoba, the School of Art’s faculty and staff, national and provincial funding agencies, donors, and volunteers.

The School of Art Gallery and its presenters acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada.

The Performance of Shadows is generously supported by Michael F.B. Nesbitt. 


School of Art Gallery
255 ARTlab
180 Dafoe Road
Winnipeg, MB, R3T2N2

Telephone: 204-474-9322

Gallery Hours:
Mon, Tue, Wed, + Fri: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Thurs: 9:00 am to 7:30 pm
Sat: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Closed February 18 and on all statutory holidays


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