Homelands

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Design for Louis Riel Memorial
Sculpture of the Louis Riel Memorial
sculpture, steel, wood, commission, controversy, political, abstract design, non-representational sculpture, figurative sculpture, proposal, Métis Nation, Louis Riel, Premier Ross Thatcher, nude public art, offensive art,public art, loss of language,censorship, Wascana Park, history of Regina, Canadian Government, bronze casting,issues, cape,hero,maquette,
description

Louis Riel In the 1960s, John Nugent won a  commissionA contract between an artist and an individual. The artist agrees to create an image or design for the individual for a predetermined price.  from the provincial government to  designA plan, or to plan. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity. Also [applied design], the production of attractive and well crafted functional objects. Subcategories of the design arts include: architecture, bonsai, fashion design, furniture design, graphic design, ikebana, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, stagecraft, textile design, and Web page design. (Artlex.com)  a memorial to Louis Riel.  Nugent’s proposal was an  abstractImagery which departs from representational accuracy, to a variable range of possible degrees. Abstract artists select and then exaggerate or simplify the forms suggested by the world around them.  (Artlex.com)   designA plan, or to plan. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity. Also [applied design], the production of attractive and well crafted functional objects. Subcategories of the design arts include: architecture, bonsai, fashion design, furniture design, graphic design, ikebana, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, stagecraft, textile design, and Web page design. (Artlex.com)  ; however, the final work was a  figurativeUsed to describe an artwork which visually references, depicts, or describes the human body as a focus.  depiction of Riel with one arm raised in the air.  The abstract design was based more on the ideas and issues that compelled Riel to challenge the Canadian Government and eventually led to his execution. Nugent and many members of the  commissionA contract between an artist and an individual. The artist agrees to create an image or design for the individual for a predetermined price.  committee preferred the  abstractImagery which departs from representational accuracy, to a variable range of possible degrees. Abstract artists select and then exaggerate or simplify the forms suggested by the world around them.  (Artlex.com)  design.  The abstract design honoured Riel and, at the same time, represented some of the concerns of the Métis people, such as loss of language, land and culture. Ross Thatcher, the Saskatchewan Premier at that time, insisted the  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  had to be a realistic portrayal rather than a non-representational abstract sculpture.  Nugent decided he would make a "real" man of Riel and developed a nude  figure1.  The form of a human, an animal or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form.  2.  A person of note (i.e., an important figure in history...)  of Riel that he was later instructed to cover with a cape.  The cape was left untied and exposed the nude body of Riel.

There was much controversy around this commission. John Nugent is not of Métis decent and many people in the Métis community were upset because they had had no input into the design.  Many also found the  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  of Riel offensive and were glad to see the memorial removed after it had stood in Wascana Park in Regina, Saskatchewan for twenty-three years.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Discuss controversy in art. How could this whole issue have been handled differently? Do you think the sculpture should have been taken out of the public realm, stored in a vault and only displayed occasionally in the gallery? Discuss how this whole situation speaks to the idea of Homelands.
  • What is censorship in the arts?  Could this be an example of censorship?
Studio Activity

Logos

  • Design a logo for your school or community.
  • As an outsider, it is difficult to design images for another group?
  • What might these difficulties be?

Abstract sculptures

  • Look at the two sculptures, Design for Louis Riel Memorial and Louis Riel Memorial made by John Nugent.
  • Can you see similarities?
  • Observe abstract sculptures in resource materials and in your community.
  • What have the artists done to communicate a message?

Sculptural likeness

  • Make a sculptural likeness of a prominent person in your school or community. 
  • Consider the importance of representing the person’s character or personality in an ‘authentic’ way. 
  • Consider and discuss the consequences of representing someone who is from a cultural background that is not the same as yours. 
  • What might you do to avoid misrepresentations or misunderstandings? 
  • Might some artists welcome public controversy? If so, why?
References

Author unknown.  ‘John Nugent Studio Designated a Provincial Heritage Property.’ News release, Government of Saskatchewan, November 25, 2005.  Retrieved from the Internet on August 10, 2008 from:  http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=65bc6b25-0200-4413-9e98-163e03cdc266

Long, Timothy.  ‘John Nugent.’  The Canadian Encyclopedia.  Retrieved from the Internet on August 10, 2008 from:  http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0005847

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning