Art Exhibition Flaunts ‘Nature of the Beast’

May 14, 2012 - News Release

Animal imagery from the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre (MSAC) and the University of Guelph art collections will be featured in an MSAC exhibition, “Nature of the Beast,” May 17 to July 8. The event coincides with the 150th anniversary of U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College.

From 19th-century romanticized views of animals to more challenging contemporary perspectives, the exhibition includes painting, sculpture and works on paper showing how artists help shape our assumptions about connections between animals and humans.

“This exhibition reveals the breadth of the collections, which form a wonderful resource for the campus and the community,” said MSAC director Judith Nasby, who curated the exhibition. “It’s an opportunity for us to show off the treasures in both collections, ranging from rare 16th-century European etchings to transformation subjects by Aboriginal artists, as well as works by regional artists such as Robert Howson and Ken Danby.”

The MSAC collection focuses on contemporary Canadian art, especially outdoor sculpture, Inuit art and Canadian silver. The U of G collection, established in the 1870s, surveys Canadian art over three centuries with examples of European historical prints. Together, the two collections comprise more than 7,000 works by regional, national and international artists.

Aidan Ware, MSAC co-ordinator of education and development, said: “The catalyst for this show was to examine how animals are depicted in art.

“It is truly amazing to think about how animals have impacted many of our social, environmental, and personal histories. The exhibition addresses a really diverse set of topics ranging from agriculture to gender, and presents some of our finest pieces to the public in a completely new context. ‘Nature of the Beast’ is truly a celebration of this legacy.”

The collections continue to grow through national and international donations and bequests of artworks, and through purchases and commissions supported by individual donors, federal grants and funds raised by MSAC volunteers.

The opening reception will take place May 17, at 7 p.m. The exhibition will be opened by OVC Dean Elizabeth Stone and there will be a gallery talk May 22 at noon.

Nature of the Beast

Aidan Ware
Co-ordinator of Education and Development
Macdonald Stewart Art Centre
519-837-0010, Ext. 2.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or, or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or

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