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Essay on Emily Carr and the Group of Seven

Essay on Emily Carr and the Group of Seven

For many centuries, Canada would be the last country that would cross the mind if the topic of art was mentioned. European artists particularly dominated the art world and were regarded as to create the best and most stunning master pieces. Canada on the other hand, sold only about two percent of their art all over the world. One of the reasons behind this was that many people deemed that this country lack both the setting as well as the talent that would stir the international art scene. 

By the 1920s however, a group of seven Canadian artists joined together with a common objective of putting their nation in the limelight of the art world. The members include A.Y. Jackson, Fred Varley, Arthur Lismer, Lawren Harris, Barker Fairley, Franz Johnston, and J.E.H Macdonald. Collectively, these artists were referred to as the Group of Seven. What was most interesting about these painters was their deviation from the typical and popular European art portrait painting. Instead, the group travelled all throughout Canada in search for an inspiration. The artists ultimately drew their inspiration by drawing their mother land’s unique landscape. Most of their paintings and sketches include a wide range of Canada setting such as wilderness, mill houses, rivers, and falls among many others. Some of their most popular creations include Johnston’s Serenity, Lake of the Woods, Varley’s Open Window, Harris’ Toronto Street, Winter Morning, MacDonald’s Sumacs, and Jackson’s Evening, Les Eboulements to name a few. The group received praises from all over the world for their unique art pieces as well as for their soulful subjects. More than this, the group showed the world Canada’s uniqueness and distinct surroundings. Apart from the positive reviews received by the seven artists, they were recognized as the pioneers for Canada’s school of art (Grainger 45).

Much like the Group of Seven, Emily Carr also showed the international art world her country’s lush surroundings through her paintings. Adopting a post-impressionist and modernist technique, Carr made various sketches and paintings Vancouver’s indigenous villages. She utilized vibrant colors and bold strokes to capture not only the aboriginal villages but also other Canadian settings such as the wilderness, forest scenes and other landscapes. Her talent was eventually recognized by the Group of Seven as she gained their support. Consequently, the group influenced Carr to create paintings of her personal conception of God. Hence, she created art works that depict spirituality rather than institutional religion. Today, Carr, along with the Group of Seven, is recognized as Canada’s best modern artists. Some of her most well-known works include Kitwancool, Breton Church, and Blunden Harbour (Grainger 45).

The works and efforts of Emily Carr and the Group of Seven is a direct reflection of Canada’s search for identity. What is most appealing about their situation was the fact that Canada was virtually unheard of in the world of art. In addition to this, many believed that the country’s landscape and environment is not “art or painting-worthy”. These painters however, proved the world wrong as they have successfully captured not just the landscape of the country but its essence as well. This has allowed Canada as well as its people to be proud of their motherland’s breath taking sceneries and astounding talents. 

Although these eight artists have undoubtedly secured Canada a position in the art world, the search for Canada’s identity continues. It is important to note that in order for a country to be great, one must not simply find an identity but it must also evolve. It is only then that Canada along with its people, will find a sense of self that does not need the validation of other countries or other people.

Grainger, Brett. “The Secret”. (Dec 2010) The Walrus. 

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