Full disclosure here - I am Canadian. With that knowlege in hand, offering up "Group of Seven" workshops for my students this past January may have made a little more sense to our EM families. After all, the names Lawren Harris or A.Y. Jackson don't exactly have the same 'gold star' panache of Monet or Van Gogh. Still, not knowing exactly who the painters were, parents happily signed their kids up for "Northern Lights."
God bless 'em, those parents trusted that landscape paintings by Canadian artists (from the 1920's no less!) would somehow capture the imagination of their budding artists. Well, that it did.
Growing up with understanding that the Group of Seven paintings were seen as the very essence of our 'Canadian Identity,' can make you a little well, rebellious. As a young art history student I would run past any exhibition displaying the fabled group, feeling it too old school to even take seriously. It took years to come back to the brilliance and audacity of these painters.
Seeing it now, through the eyes of my students, has only revitalized my love of the painters even more. They gasped at Thomson's thick impressionistic autumn colors, and were shocked by the geometric shapes of Harris' icebergs. It was all so new, so colorful, so abstract! They LOVED the unique styles of all the painters and learned that over time, the landscape art of Canada has shown changes not only in the land itself but also in perception, in ways of seeing. A painting tells as much about painters and their times as it does about the places painted.
And that's something to be proud of, eh?