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Students Collect | The First Two Decades of the UBC Alma Mater Society Collection


The Penticton Art Gallery in partnership with the Naramata Bench Winery Association is proud to present Students Collect: University of British Columbia Alma Mater Society Student Art Collection featuring thirty-two works by artists from across Canada between 1948 and 1968. The original intent was to create a collection which exposed the students to the visual arts and in doing so provided a more aesthetic and pleasing educational environment.

What make this collection unique is the fact that the works were chosen by the students for the students, and there by documents the interests and concerns of the student body during a pivotal period of radical social and societal change. Collectively these works trace the evolution of the UBC student body creating an invaluable social record. The original intent of making the art collection accessible to all had been over shadowed by the increasing value of the individual works and the security concerns this presents. The recent purchases featuring the photo conceptual artwork of Roy Adren and Adam Harrison. 

If you have ever been a student at UBC you have contributed directly to the purchase of these works through student fees. In selecting works for this exhibition, I was surprised at the breadth of the collection and the artists whose works are represented. While regional in its focus, the collection does represent artists from across the country and traces the regional differences and nuances which make this country unique. The collection is a fair illustration of the development of Canada's art history over these two important decades. Some of the artists whose work is included in this exhibit are: Lawren Harris, E. J. Hughes, Molly Lamb Bobak, Jean-Paul Lemieux, Joe Plaskett, Jack Shadbolt, Gordon Smith, Takao Tanabe, Harold Town, A.Y. Jackson, Art Mckay, Greg Curnoe, Roy Kiyooka, William Ronald, Iain Baxter, Yves Gaucher and Claude Breeze.

This is the first time this collection had been seen outside of the UBC Vancouver campus and presents a rare and unique opportunity to see these works displayed collectively. Not only does this collection trace the development of abstraction in British Columbia and the formation of our own aesthetic fingerprint, it draws works from across the country showing the parallel development of regional schools in Regina, Southern Ontario and Quebec. It's not surprising that regionalism exists but it is fascinating to see the contrast and comparisons between regions and the exchange of ideas which occurred as artists moved across the county. These two decades were the beginnings of a major social revolution which transformed our nation forever and one which we have not seen the likes of since.  

Later Event: July 11
Creative Kids