Unpacking the Living Room was conceived by guest curator Julie Hollenbach and presented at MSVU Art Gallery, Halifax, over the period 8 September through 10 November 2018.  The exhibition is staged in a living room set with a window, door and mantel-piece, and furnished in contemporary style. Works of art and craft by young and established artists ‘decorate’ the living room. Questions of social justice and identity are integral to each item of home décor and entertainment, to such an extent that the illusion of a private living space gives way to the inclusive actuality of a civic forum.  

In keeping with its mandate to showcase minoritarian discourses, MSVU Art Gallery also aims to make its public programs as accessible as possible.  The main gallery entrance has an automatic door. Recorded audio descriptions of the artists’ works are available to visitors, as are live verbal descriptions delivered on request by the art gallery attendants.  All of the chairs may be sat upon and several of the artworks may be touched. Wall-mounted items are positioned to be accessible to seated and standing viewers. Artist-run workshops, performances and a public panel discussion are offered in conjunction with the exhibition, with sign language interpretation on request.

I am grateful to Julie Hollenbach for her years of research on this project, also her persistence in realizing her vision and her attentiveness to a thousand details.  Thanks as well the contributing artists; not only did they lend and make work especially for this exhibition, they also wrote and recorded carefully considered descriptions to make their intentions more accessible to exhibition visitors.  Andrew Chagljevich designed this website. Art Gallery staffers Traci Steylen, Administrative Assistant and Claire Dykhuis, Education and Outreach Coordinator worked on exhibition administration, promotion and animation programs. David Dahms, Technician, built the living room set and installed most of the works.

Support from these funding agencies and sponsors is also gratefully acknowledged:  Canada Council for the Arts, Arts Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group, MSVU Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies and Attica Furnishings Limited.

Ingrid Jenkner, Director

MSVU Art Gallery