Anne Savage: The Living Spirit and Her Concordia Legacy
July 9 to August 17, 2007
This exhibition focuses on the life and work of Anne Savage. Through audio and visual documents it portrays her spirit and her influence on the founding members of the Faculty of Fine Arts. It highlights the extensive holdings of Concordia University that includes her papers, drawings, photographs, paintings, memorabilia, audio tapes and a collection of her students' work. The design of the exhibition invites the viewer to make links between the artist's education, artistic and teaching practice.
Anne (Annie) Douglas Savage (1896-1971) was a Canadian artist and teacher who made a significant impact on Canadian art and art education. She was one of the first women to participate actively in a Canadian school of painting and an early exponent of child art and creative teaching. There was a symbiotic relationship between her development as an artist and as a teacher.
As an artist, she was a part of the vital Canadian art movements of the 1930's and 40's, closely related to the Group of Seven and the ‘Northern Symbolist' landscape artists. In her teaching, she was influenced by the writings of Belle Boas, Marion Richardson and Herbert Read and was a close associate of Arthur Lismer's.
Between 1914 and 1918 she attended the school of the Art Association of Montreal where she studied with William Brymner and Maurice Cullen. In 1921, along with other former students of the Art Association, she was a founding member of the Beaver Hall Hill group of painters.
From 1922 – 1948 she taught at Baron Byng High School in Montreal where she affected the lives of thousands of adolescents through her conviction that art was vital to their daily lives and through her involvement with the new Canadian art. Some of her students became artists and art educators, amongst them were Leah Sherman and Alfred Pinsky. Leah Sherman describes her influence: “She taught us the meaning of creativity, of visual experience and of art. She did this through being what she was rather than saying what all these things should be…as her student and later as a fellow teacher… I was conscious of simultaneously receiving her wisdom and at the same time being a partner to discoveries which we shared. In her company the visual world became an endless source of stimulation and pleasure.”
In 1960, with Anne Savage's support and encouragement, Leah Sherman and Alfred Pinsky initiated the fine arts program at Sir George Williams' University (later the Concordia University Faculty of Fine Arts). They were inspired by her vision of the role of art in humanistic education and the importance of art in society.
Through her personal generosity and the ongoing support of her family, Concordia has become the research centre for the study of Anne Savage. In 2006 the Faculty of Fine Arts was the recipient of a generous gift from Anne McDougall, the artist's niece and biographer, to establish a scholarship in her name. With the added assistance of Eric Klinkhoff, the Anne Savage Memorial Graduate Scholarship in Art Education has been established. This exhibition is being held in honor of Anne McDougall and in appreciation of her and Eric Klinkhoff's generosity.
We would like to thank Avrum Morrow, Tobie Steinhouse and the Department of Art Education for making this exhibition possible. We would also like to express our appreciation to Nancy Marrelli and Nathalie Hodgson of the Concordia Archives and Michèle Thériault and Nathalie Garneau of the Ellen Art Gallery for their collaboration in mounting this exhibition. Lastly, it is with great gratitude that we thank Lynn Beavis for her enthusiasm, advice and support in developing and curating this exhibit and for the mentoring generously offered to our graduate students.
Leah Sherman, Professor Emerita, and Paul Langdon, Associate Professor.