Banner: Lyn Westfall, The Poppy and the Wellington, 2016 (acrylic on canvas, detail)
This year marks 150 years since the birth of Lt. Col. John McCrae (1872-1918). An esteemed doctor, soldier and poet, McCrae is remembered for his wartime poem “In Flanders Fields,” which he wrote from the trenches near Ypres, Belgium, on 3 May 1915.
McCrae was a keen observer of the people and places he visited. In addition to his letters and poetry,
he made many sketches. Over his lifetime, he wrote dozens of poems and made innumerable drawings.
Although the poet McCrae is often celebrated, Witnessing War takes a closer look at his drawings, in graphite and ink, many of which are held in Guelph Museums’ collection. When considered together, McCrae’s poems and drawings offer an impression of his inner solitude.
Shaped and inspired by McCrae’s creative expressions, Witnessing War features drawings, paintings and sculptures by local and national artists, spanning 100 years of art as a salve to war.
The exhibition includes art works made in response to the six global conflicts in which Canada has fought: South African War (1899-1902), First World War (1914-1918), Second World War (1939-1945), Korean War (1950-1953), Persian Gulf War (1990-1991), and Afghanistan War (2001-2014).
Witnessing War also considers responsive works by artists with connections to Guelph and the surrounding region, who explore themes of human conflict in their art.
Watch History Bites: Is Art a Salve to War? with with contemporary artists Anong Migwans Beam, Anique Jordan, Barbara Todd, and Lyn Westfall, whose work is featured in this exhibition: