Ryan McCourt

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Ryan McCourt
KLEIN1.jpg
Ryan McCourt and Alberta premier Ralph Klein at the unveiling of "A Modern Outlook" in Edmonton.
Born1975
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
NationalityCanadian
EducationUniversity of Alberta, Edmonton,
Known forSculpture
Notable work
"A Modern Outlook", "Will and Representation"
Movementmodernism, late modernism, surrealism, abstraction
Patron(s)Robert T. Webb Sculpture Garden

Ryan McCourt (born February 23, 1975) is a Canadian artist best known for his sculptures.[1][2][3][4] He lives in Edmonton, Alberta.[2][5][6]

Early life and education[edit]

Ryan David McCourt[7][8] was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, the youngest of Ken and Sheelagh McCourt's five children.[4] He attended school at Patricia Heights Elementary School, Hillcrest Junior High School, and Jasper Place High School.[4] McCourt completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997, and his Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture in 1999, both at the University of Alberta[9][10][11] There, McCourt was a student of Peter Hide and Edmonton's modernist tradition of welded sculpture.[12][13][14]

Career[edit]

In 1995, while an undergraduate student, McCourt was a photographer with the Edmonton Eskimos Football Club. After completing his MFA, McCourt worked as the Artistic Coordinator for The Works Art Expo 2001, and curated Resolutions, a solo exhibition of paintings by Canadian artist Tony Baker, at the Edmonton Art Gallery. In 2002, McCourt founded the North Edmonton Sculpture Workshop,[4][9][11] "a cooperative shared-studio project focused on facilitating the creation and promotion of contemporary sculpture,"[15] producing the Big Things sculpture series at the Royal Alberta Museum from 2002 to 2006.[16][17][18] In 2003, McCourt was an instructor of Visual Fundamentals at the University of Alberta.[9][11] In 2004, alongside then-Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, McCourt unveiled his 5.5-meter tall[19] commissioned sculpture entitled A Modern Outlook, at 18550-118A Avenue in Edmonton.[20] McCourt organized the Alberta Centennial Sculpture Exhibition at the Royal Alberta Museum[21] in 2005.[22]

Controversy[edit]

"Destroyer of Obstacles," by Ryan McCourt, was ordered removed from public display by Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel in 2007

In 2006, McCourt was the first artist selected to display sculpture for one year outside Edmonton's Shaw Conference Centre.[23] McCourt's exhibition, Will and Representation, was an installation of four large sculptures based on Ganesha,[21] a deity from Hindu mythology. Ten months into the exhibition, then-Mayor of Edmonton Stephen Mandel ordered the works removed after reportedly receiving a 700-name petition complaining of the sculptures' "disrespectful" nudity.[24][25][26] When asked for comment, McCourt stated that "Nudity seems like a rather quaint thing to get one's knickers in a bunch over,[27] in the 21st century. Besides, there's lots of art that I don't like, I don't go around gathering signatures of people who agree with me, and try to force the art to come down. That would be truly offensive, especially in a democracy like Canada."[28]

Media coverage of the sculptures' removal was widespread, with articles appearing in the news as far away as India.[29] Public reaction to Mandel's censorship decree was generally disapproving.[citation needed] In an interview with the Edmonton Journal's Paula Simons, David Goa, religious scholar, cultural anthropologist, and director of the University of Alberta's Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life, states "In India, Lord Ganesha is on everything – playing cards, advertising signs, lotto tickets, even diapers, I suspect." Simons concludes, "In his haste to appease a few protesters, the mayor, usually a champion of the arts, made a serious error in judgment. Instead of giving McCourt's divinely inspired statues the bum's rush, we should be celebrating this Canadian cross-pollination of cultures and aesthetic forms".[26] The Globe and Mail's columnist Margaret Wente agreed with Simons: "The mayor, of course, was quite wrong. Mr. McCourt's sculptures did not insult the Hindu community. They insulted a small but vocal conservative religious group that is about as representative of Hindus as Hassidic Jews are of Jews.... There's a big difference between respecting different cultures and caving in to illiberalism and superstition."[30]

Despite such negative responses in the media to art censorship in Canada, in 2014 the Edmonton Arts Council subsequently refused a donation of one of McCourt's sculptures, Destroyer of Obstacles, evidently because the sculpture had genitalia beneath its clothes.[31] After meeting with seven Hindu community group representatives to seek out their opinion of the donation, the Edmonton Arts Council received a response that McCourt's sculpture was "an offense to their religion" and that the ban enacted by Mayor Mandel should remain in place.[32] As a result of this consultation, "the Public Art Committee unanimously voted to decline acceptance of the gift, as the artwork did not meet 'community or civic suitability' criteria." In McCourt's view, "It is not the purpose of a city's public art collection to placate special interests," he says. "I want Edmonton to build the best civic art collection that we can get, never mind the politics, the religion, etc. of the artists making the work."[33]

McCourt's reputation as a controversial artist goes beyond the issue of censorship.[6][21][34] Protesting the exclusivity of a local National Portrait Gallery exhibition,[35] McCourt "sent in an anonymous mock-up of Ingres' Napoleon as Jupiter Enthroned redone with Stephen Harper's face along with a fabricated letter from the Prime Minister of Canada. His anonymous submission was immediately accepted into the show and became the poster child of the exhibit."[21][36] McCourt has publicly advocated for civic investment in the arts,[37] and for the University of Alberta to move its Department of Art and Design to a downtown campus.[38] McCourt has been a vocal critic of public art in Edmonton,[39] dismissing Talus Dome, a much-maligned sculpture purchased by the city,[40] as "an embarrassment to our citizens, a symbol of the Edmonton Arts Council's continued bungling of their portfolio, and an unforgivable waste of public funds."[41]

Common Sense[edit]

Common Sense, an artist run gallery in Edmonton, Alberta, owned by Canadian artist Ryan McCourt, photographed in 2014.

In 2007, McCourt opened Common Sense,[21][42] a gallery space at 10546 – 115 street in downtown Edmonton,[43][44] run by the North Edmonton Sculpture Workshop.[15] With a mandate to give 100% of proceeds from art sales to exhibiting artists,[21] Common Sense does not fit the mold of either a commercial gallery or a traditional artist run centre. According to art writer Amy Fung, "Common Sense is not actually an artist-run centre in any official sense, but a space run by artists in the old-fashioned sense.... essentially an artist's wet dream in our space-deprived city."[45]

Awards and collections[edit]

McCourt received the Lee Fund for the Arts Award; is a two-time recipient of the Edmonton Artists Trust Fund Award; and the recipient of a number of Project Grants from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.[9][11] His 2000 photograph After David, and 2003 sculpture Atlas are included in the Alberta Foundation for the Arts' collection.[46][47] Fanfare, a steel sculpture by McCourt from 1999, is in the art collection of the University of Alberta.[7] Honky Tonk, also from 1999,[10] is in the collection of the Robert T. Webb Sculpture Garden.[13] "The Abduction of Liberty, from 2006, was donated to the City of Edmonton and installed in the Belgravia Art Park in 2009.[48][49] McCourt was awarded First Prize in the headdress category of the 2009 Wearable Art Awards in Port Moody, British Columbia for "The Helmet of Laocoön."[9][50] In 2011, McCourt was named one of Edmonton's "Top 40 Under 40" by Avenue Edmonton for his support of local artists and his encouragement of "critical discourse".[51] On August 19, 2016, McCourt's "Edmontonian Flag" was presented to Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson by Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations Grand Chief Randy Ermineskin, "as a symbol of their commitment to collaboration, respectful dialogue and exploring shared opportunities" and "to symbolize a new dawn in Nation-to-Nation relationship building."[52][53][54]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Maureen Fenniak, "Abstract Criticism," Vue Weekly, September 20–26, 2001
  2. ^ a b Terry Fenton, "Edmonton Sculpture: The Next Generation," Harcourt Expressed, Volume 12, Summer/Fall 2002
  3. ^ Olenka Melnyk, “Big Sculpture, Bigger Worries Burden Artists”, Edmonton Journal, July 12, 2004
  4. ^ a b c d The Artwork of Ryan McCourt
  5. ^ Mike Winters, "Fitting into the Modernist Mould," SEE Magazine, Issue #455, August 12–21, 2002
  6. ^ a b "Piri Halasz, "Report From The West: The Excitement of Sculpture," From the Mayor's Doorstep, October 2009". Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  7. ^ a b University of Alberta Art Collection, University of Alberta Museums
  8. ^ "New Zealand Government: Flag Design Gallery". Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Sculpturesite Gallery". Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  10. ^ a b ""Folio," University of Alberta" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on October 31, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d "Axis Contemporary Art". Archived from the original on May 5, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  12. ^ "Travel Information: Artists Studio". Archived from the original on February 7, 2017. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Creative Arts Guild, Robert T. Webb Sculpture Garden". Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  14. ^ "Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form". Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Prairie Seen, Profiles: Edmonton Art Institutions (Public Galleries) Archived October 1, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Royal Alberta Museum: Past Exhibits". Archived from the original on May 1, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  17. ^ Gilbert Bouchard, “Come to Expect ‘Big Things’”, Edmonton Journal, July 19, 2002
  18. ^ Erik Floren, “Big Impressions”, The Edmonton Sunday Sun, July 28, 2002
  19. ^ "Reuters Pictures". Archived from the original on May 6, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  20. ^ University of Alberta, Faculty of Arts in Review, Work of Arts, Spring 2005
  21. ^ a b c d e f "Avenue Edmonton: Top 40 Under 40". Archived from the original on May 30, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  22. ^ "Royal Alberta Museum, Past Exhibits". Archived from the original on May 1, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  23. ^ Edmonton Journal, "Artists Give Walls of Shaw Extension Lively Look," November 18, 2006 Archived June 23, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Edmonton Journal, "Scrap Sculptures, Mayor Says," September 19, 2007[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "The Globe and Mail, "Edmonton to Remove Statues After Hindu Protest," September 20, 2007". Archived from the original on October 22, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  26. ^ a b Edmonton Journal, "Sculptor's Use of Revered Hindu Deity Shows No Sign of Sacrilege," September 22, 2007 Archived June 23, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ ""Sculptures offend Hindus," Edmonton Journal, September 21, 2007". Archived from the original on June 17, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  28. ^ Edmonton Journal, "Sculptor Finds Criticism "Rather Quaint," September 19, 2007[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ ""Protest against disrespectful Ganesha idols in Canada," Times of India, September 22, 2007". Archived from the original on September 14, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  30. ^ "Margaret Wente, "Why Are We So Afraid To Offend?," The Globe and Mail, September 29, 2007". Archived from the original on October 22, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  31. ^ "PZ Myers, "Reaching For a Reasonable Justification for Censorship," Pharyngula, April 24, 2015". Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  32. ^ "Edmonton Arts Council – Briefing Note, June 12, 2014". Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  33. ^ "Donna McKinnon, "The Pleasures and Perils of Public Art," Curious Arts, November 27, 2015". Archived from the original on April 20, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  34. ^ "Latitude 53 Contemporary Visual Culture, "City Can't Guarantee High Level Bridge Waterfall Will Ever Flow Again", December 12, 2011". Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  35. ^ "Latitude 53, "National Portrait Gallery"". Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  36. ^ "Latitude 53, "Today's Cover Story In SEE Magazine Is All About The National Portrait Gallery," June 10, 2010". Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  37. ^ "Ryan McCourt, "The Five Things Edmonton Needs To Be A True Cultural Capital," Connect2Edmonton: Guest Column, March 5, 2007". Archived from the original on April 25, 2015. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  38. ^ Ryan McCourt, "Bay Store Would Make A Fine Campus", Edmonton Journal, June 21, 2004
  39. ^ "CBC News, "Mute Flute Sculpture Gone From Jasper and 109th," November 13, 2012". Archived from the original on September 24, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  40. ^ "David Staples, "The Sh-t We Say About The Talus Dome, Edmonton's Most Expensive, Exposed and Controversial Public Sculpture," Edmonton Journal, February 21, 2012". Archived from the original on June 29, 2018. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  41. ^ "David Staples, "Edmonton Artist Blasts Talus Dome (And Me)," Edmonton Journal, November 16, 2011". Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  42. ^ "University of Saskatchewan: News". Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  43. ^ "The North Edge: District by Design". Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  44. ^ "Canadian Art: Galleries". Archived from the original on March 26, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  45. ^ "Amy Fung: Prairie Artsters, "A Different Kind of ARC," Vue Weekly, July 10, 2008". Archived from the original on May 5, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  46. ^ "Provincial Art Collections, Alberta Culture & Tourism". Archived from the original on September 16, 2016. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  47. ^ "Alberta Foundation for the Arts: Art Collection". Archived from the original on August 27, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  48. ^ "Edmonton Arts Council: Public Art". Archived from the original on April 12, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  49. ^ "Report to the City of Edmonton by the Public Art Committee, Appendix Two • Master Chart of artworks in the City of Edmonton Public Art Collection • June 30, 2012" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  50. ^ "Macie McGowan, "Ryan McCourt," Glitter and Gold, December 1, 2009". Archived from the original on May 9, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  51. ^ "Avenue Edmonton: Top 40 Under 40, 2011". Archived from the original on April 23, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  52. ^ "Should Edmonton's City Flag Be Changed?", Elise Stolte, Edmonton Journal, September 24, 2016". Archived from the original on November 26, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  53. ^ "Treaty No. 6 Recognition Day Art Contest, City of Edmonton, 2016". Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  54. ^ ""What Makes a Good Flag: An Expert Critiques Two Proposals to Redesign Edmonton's Flag," Elise Stolte, Edmonton Journal, September 24, 2016". Archived from the original on October 6, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2019.

External links[edit]