The Foreman Art Gallery at Bishop’s University was founded in 1991 through a grant from Ministère des Affaires culturelles du Québec. The art gallery was named after Florence May Foreman, a philanthropist from rural Saskatchewan who was one of the university’s largest benefactors. Today, it is located adjacent to the Centennial Theater and hosts curated art exhibits sparking provocative social discussions on a local, national, and international level featuring emerging and mid-career artists. The art selection changes every few months, with “Images fabuleuses. Quand la fiction prend racine,” running from January 16-March 21, 2020. In the spring, the museum also hosts student works through the 2020 Student Grad Show and BU Film Festival.
For fall 2019, their theme was “Intertypes,” which looked at the history of 3D printing and imagined the cultural implications of this new technology. At the entrance, visitors were greeted with pairs of 3D glasses and entered a mysterious sci-fi world, with 2D and 3D sketches, prints, and videos (this time, a colorful 35-minute film called “Sunstone,” which follows the production of Fresnel lenses from raw material collection to their final exhibition in a museum of lighthouses and navigational devices). Throughout the museum, the main displays, including a 3D printed wheel with geometric shapes, numbers, and letters, were brightly lit with bilingual guides to describe the selection and arrangement of pieces.
Their new spring 2020 exhibit “Images fabuleuses” explores sci-fi images and predictions/dreams of the future. Often, the futuristic images present political ideals that foster imagination and cultivate debate. The exhibit combines both international and Canadian artists, including several indigenous artists. Sonny Assu’s painting “It was, like, a super long time ago that ppl were here, right?” depicts indigenous history and plays on Emily Carr’s “Cumshewa” painting. Larissa Sansour and Soren Lind created a film and image gallery under the theme “In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain,” which speaks to the role of myth in the formation of national identity, with dreamlike flying porcelain in a barren wasteland. In this collection, the rebel leader is trying to establish a new narrative for the human race. “Iyapo Repository” projects the future of African people through cultural artifacts, and Skawennati’s exhibit “Epiphany” features a digital woman projected onto “Cloudscape,” a piece of art by Hannah Claus, which comprises a physical hanging display of white ovals that dangle beneath the light, giving the feeling of being close to clouds.
Bishop’s students from different cultural backgrounds will continue to add to discourse on indigenous and African futurism by holding educational workshops that are open to the public. Throughout the year, the gallery hosts many community events, such as opening receptions where guests can interact with featured artists.
Another important part of the Foreman Art Gallery is the Community Art Lab, which provides guided tours to school groups and the public, with an educational curriculum informed by the Quebec Ministry of Education, and children’s summer camps, where kids explore rotating themes related to STEM, waste management, and urban art. The Community Art Lab also hosts an Open Studio (by donation), where anyone is welcome to come and create their own artistic masterpieces with available supplies, and open workshops, listed on their website. Past workshops have included Japanese sashiko stitching and collage and mixed media.
The gallery is free to the public and aims to make acclaimed artwork available to locals who may not be able to travel to other Canadian metropolitan centers. Although small in size, it is definitely worth a visit for its significance to the Bishop’s community. At least one of the art exhibitions per year has a direct link to the history and culture of the Eastern Townships.