The University of Waterloo Art Gallery manages the collection of the University of Waterloo; programs 2 exhibition spaces on campus; develops an events program to augment the exhibition program; and works with students as employees, volunteers and artists.
The gallery’s focus is to produce exhibitions of work by nationally recognized Canadian artists. In recent years, UW|AG has produced exhibitions that include the work of John Abrams, Robert Houle, Evergon, Julie Voyce, Laura Millard, Rebecca Belmore, and Tony Urquhart, among many others.
The University of Waterloo Art Gallery (UWAG) was established in 1964 to be a centre for the exhibition of works of art on campus. The intention was to provide the campus community with opportunities to view developments in contemporary Canadian art and to serve as a collecting and management institution for the University’s Permanent Collection. In the early years of the Gallery’s existence, the collection provided the focus of the institution’s programming. Important works by members of the Group of Seven and early Toronto abstractionists provided the nucleus of the collection. Intended to be a ‘living’ and accessible collection, the Gallery oversaw the installation of works in public spaces across the campus. The Gallery proper was housed in the Theatre for the Arts; a centrally located campus venue that regularly entertained the larger Waterloo community. The Theatre continues to host productions by both the UW Drama Department as well as those of professional theatre groups from across the country.
In the late 1970s, the Gallery hired a curator to undertake the collections management and exhibition responsibilities of the institution. Prior to this, the Gallery had been administered by faculty and departmental directives. With the addition of a curator, the Gallery actively solicited the acquisition of works of art and stepped up the exhibition and public hanging of the Collection. In 1991, the Gallery began to actively cultivate the aquisition of important works of Canadian art for the Permanent Collection; limited the public campus distribution of works in the Collection; developed a nationally-based exhibition program; and created touring exhibitions for distributions to sites across Canada. An additional gallery space (a former factory warehouse on campus) was allocated to the Gallery in 1995, enabling the significant changes in programming listed above. The addition sparked the acquisition of works by Rick Potruff, Ray Mead, John Scott, Evergon, Eldon Garnet, Liz Lepage, Rene Pierre Allain, Carl Beam, among many others; and the production of exhibitions of works of Judith Schwartz, Medrie McPhee, Al McWilliams and Kevin Sonmor.
In 1999, the University of Waterloo committed to the hiring of its first full-time Director/Curator. The Director/Curator is assisted with collections management, education, installation and promotional activities by a part-time staff of between 5 to 8 people annually. The Gallery is attended by part-time student assistants. In 1999, the University of Waterloo committed a significant sum of monies to the renovation of the warehouse gallery in East Campus Hall. When the renovations were completed in the summer of 2000, the UW Art Gallery could boast a public facade and Gallery signage, a proper preparatory space, a re-aligned gallery (4,000 square feet and 350 running feet), dry-walled wall surfaces, and an up-to-date security system. In 2003, the funds were secured to up-grade the Gallery’s lighting. This new facility and enhanced staffing arrangements offer the UW Art Gallery – a Gallery that has been in existence for 40 years in 2004 – the potential to expand its present level of activities and more dramatically contribute to the lively debate on contemporary art in Canada.
The RENDER program was established in 2006 with the goal of shifting the University of Waterloo Art Gallery’s focus away from a traditional public gallery model to a more innovative and relevant approach that positioned art, design, critical thought and creative research in a much broader framework. The approach emphasized collaboration, inter/cross-disciplinary and community outreach. RENDER embraced a more experimental methodology and prioritized engagement with students and faculty across the university and made considered, targeted connections with like-minded organizations in the Kitchener-Waterloo region (and beyond) that value youth, experiential learning, community involvement and positive social and environmental change. To this end, RENDER built constructive/creative partnerships with a diversity of UW teaching and research programs, connected with community-based projects and linked with key international initiatives. RENDER consistently worked to be a thoughtful catalyst, a true collaborator and meaningful contributor that used experimental creative tools to enhance UW activities and the positive work being done in the community. At heart, RENDER sought to be a more significant asset to UW and a positive link into, and player within, the community.
While maintaining a strong base within the Faculty of Arts, RENDER developed productive and consequential relationships with the School of Architecture, Bachelor of Knowledge Integration, Waterloo Unlimited, English Language and Literature, Speech and Communication, St. Paul’s College and SIG, while creating opportunities for individual students from across the full spectrum of UW programs, including Systems Design and Environmental Studies. In the community, RENDER worked closely with such organizations as Pathways to Education (a new at risk youth program), The Working Centre, The Woodland Cultural Centre (Six Nations), rare and the Musagetes Foundation. At the heart of its focused international work, was an ongoing creative partnership with Proboscis (London UK), a partnership that connected RENDER with innovative individuals and organizations around the world.
The Render Program came to a close in March 2010.continue reading...