Refracting the Lens

Installation view of the exhibition Refracting the Lens


Refracting the Lens is a two-part exhibition marking the Varley Art Gallery of Markham’s twenty-fifth anniversary.

Part I: February 4, 2022 to September 4, 2022

Featuring the work of Shuvinai Ashoona, Franklin Carmichael, Emily Carr, A. J. Casson, Maurice Cullen, Kathleen Daly, Clarence Gagnon, Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson, F. H. Johnston, Molly Lamb Bobak, Arthur Lismer, J. E. H. MacDonald, Doris McCarthy, Norval Morrisseau, Lucius R. O'Brien, Albert H. Robinson, Jon Sasaki, Greg Staats, F. H. Varley, and Mary E. Wrinch.

Visit our virtual gallery to see the first iteration of this exhibition.

Part II: September 17, 2022, to January 8, 2023

Featuring the work of Pitseolak Ashoona, Kathleen Daly, Betty Goodwin, Anique Jordan, Doris McCarthy, Annie Pootoogook, Napachie Pootoogook, John Reeves, and Mary E. Wrinch.

Visit our virtual gallery to see the second part of Refracting the Lens.

Organized by the Varley Art Gallery of Markham

Curated by Curated by Anik Glaude, with assistance from Niamh O'Laoghaire, John Abrams, and Phil Scott

About the exhibition

Seeing the world through a pair of binoculars can bring the land around you into focus. By refracting light, the lenses create a magnified and often clearer image. You can now see objects that are very small or too far away for the naked eye to perceive by itself. Your surroundings take on new meaning as you discover the richness they hold.

The way we see and understand artworks is similar to the way we use binoculars. Our first impression is usually of the picture as a whole, the frame, dimensions, and medium. However, a closer look reveals all the subtle details that contribute to the success of a painting, drawing, or photograph. We might, for example, discover the intention of the artist or the context in which the work was created. However, we all carry a set of lenses that affect our perspective. In this case, the lenses are our experiences, our backgrounds, and our histories.

For the gallery’s 25th anniversary, we’ve gathered a selection of works that showcases new acquisitions and signals new directions in the ways in which we approach the work we do. Museums and art galleries are changing. Collections are no longer seen as repositories of historical artefacts, but as living and breathing chapters in ever evolving narratives. We invite you to consider these narratives and push beyond those that have already been written.

Installation view of Refracting the Lens. Two black and white photographs by the artist Anique Jordan
Installation view of Refracting the Lens. Five prints by the artist Betty Goodwin.
Installation view of Refracting the Lens.
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