For the purposes of preservation, about 80 per cent of the Yukon Arts Centre (YAC) permanent collection rests in a dark, climate-controlled storage vault at any given time. But thanks to funding from the Yukon Government Community Development Fund, the collection of over 100 illustrations, paintings and sculptures has now been brought to light online.
The whole lot went live online on Dec. 5 — a dream that Director of Visual Arts Mary Bradshaw says was years in the making.
“This has been a dream of ours for a number of years,” Bradshaw says. “It just came together in the last year and we couldn’t have done it without the funding from the Community Development Fund.”
The process involved photographing all of the artwork and digitizing it over the summer. Even with the help of photographer Cathie Archbould, Bradshaw says it was a challenging task.
“Sometimes it was a real physical feat,” she says of carefully carting each artwork out of the storage vault. “A number of our paintings are over 8 feet long.”
For example, the 1992 Jim Logan painting A Rethinking on the Western Front is over two and a half metres in length.
The acrylic on canvas is the Indigenous artist’s reimagining of Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel fresco, The Creation of Adam. Logan re-conceives the Eurocentric biblical figures of Adam and God as an Indigenous man reclining on the back of Turtle Island and a matriarchical Creator.
“Especially with the larger paintings, it was a challenge getting even light on them and having them shine,” Bradshaw says.
In the end, YAC staff and Archbould were successful. Anyone interested in Yukon art is now able to browse the permanent collection online, including descriptions of each work as well as featured art. Search functions, such as searching by artist, are also available.
Bradshaw said she hopes the online permanent collection will be a starting point for people to learn more about Yukon art.
“Yukon art is an important piece of the larger fabric of Canadian art, though it isn’t yet as prominent on the national level,” she says. “To be able to show a fraction of it I think will really benefit art history.”
Check out the Yukon Art Centre’s new online permanent collection at https://yukonartscentre.com/permanent_collection/.