Rosalie Favell, My First Day of Assimilation, from the series from an early age, 1994. Colour print on paper. Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Acquired with funds from the Estate of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Naylor, G-96-22

Joe Fafard, The Terrorized, 1988. Bronze, patina, 1/5. Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Gift of the artist, 2010-27

Seeing Rights and Liberties: Celebrating the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

This fall, Canada will welcome its newest national museum, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR). In recognition of the CMHR, and to welcome it to the Winnipeg cultural community, the WAG has mounted Seeing Rights and Liberties: Celebrating the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Drawn from the WAG’s permanent collection, this exhibition features works that speak to the theme of human rights. Compelling images—Jack Shadbolt’s response to the atrocities he witnessed as a World War II war artist, Edward Burtynsky’s exploration of the human toll industry takes, Käthe Kollwitz’s renderings of defeated workers, and Jamasie Pitseolak’s personal account of abuse suffered at school—that immediately inform the viewer of the plights humans face.

Human rights have engaged artists for centuries, whether it be the right to practice one’s religion, to equality irrespective of gender or race, or to a clean environment and a safe place to live. The WAG is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting such artworks to further engage the topic of human rights within community dialogue.

The CMHR is the first national museum to be built in nearly half a century, and the first to be located outside of the National Capital Region. It has often been cited that the CMHR is a “museum of ideas,” a designation with which the WAG is very familiar. Indeed, the WAG is a “museum of art,” but each and every one of the 26,000 objects in its collection and the 1,000s more that it has borrowed and displayed over the years, has been informed by an idea, a concept, a message, a narrative. Art is a universal communicator, one that does not require a written or verbal language to deliver its message. Through line, colour, shape, material, movement, sound, and more, artists communicate their ideas to audiences, leaving their works open to individual interpretation and to being informed by personal experience.

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