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Kelly Mellings, illustration from graphic novel The Outside Circle

Kelly Mellings, illustration from graphic novel The Outside Circle (2015), medium [Glenbow, Calgary AB, Jun 18 to Spring 2017]

Power in Pictures: The Outside Circle and the Impact
of the Graphic Novel

Glenbow
Calgary AB – Jun 18 to Spring 2017

Kelly Mellings, illustration from graphic novel The Outside Circle

Kelly Mellings, illustration from graphic novel The Outside Circle (2015), medium [Glenbow, Calgary AB, Jun 18 to Spring 2017]

Kelly Mellings, illustration from graphic novel The Outside Circle

Kelly Mellings, illustration from graphic novel The Outside Circle (2015), medium [Glenbow, Calgary AB, Jun 18 to Spring 2017]

Novels are not often the subjects of art exhibitions. But occasionally a novel enters the culture and it is visual artists and curators who find in it a platform. Moby Dick (1851) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) inspired exhibitions by curator Jens Hoffmann when he was at the Wattis Institute in the late 2000s. The Outside Circle (2015) had a similar effect on the Glenbow.

Authored by Patti LaBoucane-Benson (text) and Kelly Mellings (art), The Outside Circle is the story of two indigenous brothers who, according to the book’s publisher House of Anansi, “try to overcome centuries of historic trauma…to bring about positive change in their lives.” Like most graphic novels, text and image convey not only written and visual information, but combine to form supercharged tableaux, where affect gathers, gains strength.

Although Power in Pictures opened in June, it is only now that the exhibition can be fully appreciated. Indeed, rather than simply display the book’s original unbound pages, Glenbow staff “connected” Mellings with members of the Urban Society of Aboriginal Youth (USAY) for workshops designed to “tap into their own creativity.” The result is new comics, but also new stories told through older narrative forms such as masks.

Michael Turner


 Sat, Sep 10, 2016