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Monday, January 16, 2012
Spotlight on Emily Carr
Emily Carr was born in Victoria, British Columbia on December 13th, 1871. She grew up on beautiful Vancouver Island, on the Western edge of Canada, surrounded by mountains, the ocean, trees and a proper English upbringing by her parents Richard and Emily Saunders Carr. The second youngest of six children, she struggled to keep up with her parent's strict religious teachings, instead preferring to dabble in her artistic interests.
Autumn Woods 1911
It wasn't until after Carr's parents passed away that she was able to truly delve into her artistic passion. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute from 1890-1892, then returned to her beloved Vancouver Island. The landscape around here and the native people who dwelt there would prove to be a powerful influence to her art from early on. It was not just simple landscape prints that she was creating though. She was drawn to the spirit of the peoples and the land that they shared. Her first trip up the Western coast would have a profound effect on her artwork for the rest of her life.
In 1899, she travelled to London, England to attend the Westminster School of Art. She returned to Canada in 1904 a little wiser, but still feeling like there was something that she was missing in the watercolour paintings she was creating. By 1910, she returned to Europe, this time heading to Paris and an art scene that held the likes of Picasso, Braque, Cubism, Post Impressionism and Fauvism. She studied at the Académie Colarossi and met Harry Gibb, who had a large effect on her vision and style. She returned to British Columbia in 1912 with a new vision and a much brighter colour palette in her paintings.
Sadly, her vision and painting became dormant upon returning home. She spent the next 15 years running a boarding house and the lack of a modern art scene on the West Coast left her disillusioned. It wasn't until 1927, when she was contacted by the National Gallery of Canada to participate in an exhibit of West Coast Aboriginal art that her artistic career came to life again. She was introduced to members of the Group of Seven and quickly became an honorary member. In fact, Lawren Harris became a mentor, supporter and dear friend that reinvigorated her painting and spirit of life.
Odds & Ends
Carr's renewed interest in art spurred the vast majority of her recognized pieces today. Totem Poles, trees and Native scenes dominated her canvasses throughout her career, but never more prevalently than during this period. Her mediums spanned charcoal, watercolour, oils and even ran to the written word with several books published in the last few years of her life. On March 2nd, 1945 Carr passed away, but not before leaving her mark on the Canadian art scene, as well as on the world stage of post-impressionistic art.