Curator illuminates ‘forgotten’ women artists

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Curator-in-residence Regan Shrumm is spending the month of February expanding opportunities to hear women’s voices in art, bringing Salt Spring’s “Forgotten Females” back to a local audience at the Salt Spring Public Library.

An opening reception held Saturday saw a good turn-out from islanders who got to hear about Shrumm’s residency project, which is focused on the historic female front-runners to the modern island art scene that began in the 1960s. As the month progresses, two more Saturday events will focus on finding other platforms for making hidden voices heard.

Shrumm is a Victoria-based curator who was accepted into the Salt Spring Arts Council’s artist-in-residency program. She started her project hoping to share the art and stories of four island women and to record the oral histories of people who are currently involved in creative work. Nine histories were recorded and can be heard at the show; eight will be available through the library and the Salt Spring Archives for future use.

The library exhibition also provides ways to engage with questions of art and community through submissions that guests can write or create with art materials on the spot.

As Shrumm observes in her catalogue material, it is often difficult to find out about historic women artists using the usual channels, as their accomplishments were not usually recorded in official archives or histories. Instead, they are more often discovered via oral histories passed on through generations of family.

“Unfortunately, archives are biased things. You can’t get that much information on people who were minorities,” Shrumm said.

Coming up on the next two Saturdays, Shrumm will be hosting two events that take themes from the show into modern times. On Feb. 17 she will have a zine-making workshop, showing how self-produced magazines can be a platform for opinions, feelings and expression that aren’t captured by mainstream publishing. Then on Feb. 24, Shrumm invites people to bring their laptops and learn how to create and edit Wikipedia entries so they become more representative of women, queer people and other minorities. Just like the history books and archives of yore, she explained the digital platform is dominated by male artists and figures.

Both sessions run from 2 to 4 p.m. The exhibition runs to Feb. 28.

For more on this story, see the Feb. 14, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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