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Acknowledgements by Ingrid Jenkner
The idea of Blind Stairs began with Janice Gurney, Mary Scott and Arlene Stamp. As Janice explained in a letter, Arlene, Mary and I feel we are at similar points in our lives as artists. All of us are revisiting our past work and remaking it in some way that alters its original form and content.
The exhibition grew from the rather open proposal assembled by the artists in 2001, and became the travelling group retrospective that opened in Halifax, and later in Lethbridge, in 2003. We have kept the original title, Blind Stairs, which the artists arrived at jointly, and also the emphasis on patterns of appropriation that mark their conception of artistic authorship.
As institutions with a history of exploring contemporary social issues through art, in part through feminist art production, it seems appropriate that the Southern Alberta Art Gallery joins with Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, a department of Canada’s sole remaining women’s university, to produce this exhibition of work by three of our country’s leading women artists. Support for emergent women artists represents an exciting part of both galleries’ exhibition mandates, yet there is much to be learned from studying careers that began twenty years ago, when modernist paradigms in painting were much harder to ignore. Over the years, Janice Gurney, Mary Scott and Arlene Stamp have sustained a critical engagement with painting as practice rather than as medium. This openness has allowed them to experiment in an array of media, an eclecticism matched by their improvisational approach to already-circulated material.