When Vincent Massey wrote On Being Canadian in 1948, he acknowledged the importance of the arts to education and the production of good Canadian citizens. What he did not consider was what the arts and artists can tell us about being Canadian.
In On the Art of Being Canadian, Sherrill Grace begins with the premise that the arts have shaped and continue to inform Canadian identity. Drawing upon a wealth of artistic expression that spans over a century of painting, fiction, poetry, drama, and film, she traces how the arts and artists have contributed to three key themes in Canadian culture, commemoration, and myth making: the North, war, and iconic national figures such as Louis Riel, Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, and Mina Hubbard.
By telling stories in their chosen media and genres about life here or about events and figures from the past, she shows that artists help us to understand the Canadian landscape and to create a shared history. All students of Canada, whether at home or abroad, will find much to savour, enjoy, and reflect on in this beautifully illustrated volume.
All students of Canada will find much to savour and reflect on in this beautifully illustrated volume.
On the Art of Being Canadian is a stimulating and often challenging work of great intellectual depth, which is a great pleasure to read.
This is an important work for all academic libraries. Highly recommended.
Through the prisms of space (the North), time (the Wars), and people (our National Icons), Sherrill Grace brilliantly and compellingly demonstrates that Canadian art has not only reflected but has also created the Canadian experience. On the Art of Being Canadian is an accessible and powerful articulation of Sherrill Grace's commanding interdisciplinary understanding of Canada.
Rather than re-visiting the old conundrum of “What is a Canadian?” Sherrill Grace asks the infinitely more complex and compelling question, “What is the process of being Canadian?”... This passionate and evocative study teaches us how to enjoy the cold, how to vanish, and how to celebrate our elusive state of “being” in the magnificent imaginative construct we call Canada.
Introduction: On Being Canadian
1 Creating a Northern Nation
2 Theatres of War: Battle Fronts and Home Fronts
3 Inventing Iconic Figures
Epilogue: Listening for the Heartbeat of a Country
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