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Thelma Pepper retrospective to feature collected works from Remai Modern and U of S

For immediate release — July 28, 2020

SASKATOON, CANADA — On the occasion of her 100th birthday, Remai Modern is delighted to announce an upcoming exhibition of work by Saskatchewan-based photographer Thelma Pepper. The exhibition, a collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan Art Galleries and Collection, opens February 13, 2021 in the museum’s Collection Galleries.

Entitled Ordinary Women, this retrospective will highlight the life’s work of one of Saskatchewan’s preeminent senior artists. Known for her black and white photographs, Pepper documented the lives of prairie women and men, putting their experiences and resilience into focus. Connecting through shared stories, Pepper illuminated the critical roles women held within their seemingly ordinary, everyday environments.

“Pepper’s photography is exemplified by compassion and dignity, coming from her deep curiosity, sharp mind, and ability to put her subjects at ease. The exhibition focuses on the depiction of elder women and women in rural life. Ordinary Women contextualizes Pepper’s work in relation to her peers and mentors—enriching an understanding of her work well beyond its value as a local historical record,” said Sandra Fraser, Remai Modern’s Curator (Collections).

Including works from both Remai Modern’s and the University of Saskatchewan’s extensive art collections, along with important loans, this exhibition brings together several defining series from Pepper’s career, including Decades of Voices: Saskatchewan Pioneer Women, Spaces of Belonging – A Journey Along Hwy 41 and Untie the Spirit, presented alongside a selection of photographs by other important female photographers.

The exhibition runs from February 13 to August 15, 2021 at Remai Modern and is being co-curated by Sandra Fraser, Remai Modern’s Curator (Collections), and Leah Taylor, Curator, University of Saskatchewan Art Galleries and Collection.

About Thelma Pepper

Thelma Pepper (b. 1920) is a Saskatoon-based artist. Born in Nova Scotia, Pepper was introduced to photography early in her life by her grandfather and father, amateur photographers who had their own darkroom. Pepper studied biology at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, completing a Bachelor of Science and later, a Master of Science at McGill University, Montreal. Having moved to Saskatoon in 1947, it was not until after her four children were grown that she began her own photographic work.

Pepper was active with The Photographer’s Gallery, an artist-run exhibition and resource centre dedicated to photography as an artistic practice. At the age of 66, she had her first solo exhibition, entitled Decades of Voices: Saskatchewan Pioneer Women (1986), and only recently retired her darkroom studio.

Pepper was the subject of a National Film Board of Canada production, A Year at Sherbrooke in 2009, and in 2014, she was the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Award—Lifetime Achievement.

About Remai Modern

Remai Modern is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Traditional Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respects to First Nations and Métis ancestors and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

Remai Modern is a new museum of modern and contemporary art in Saskatoon. The museum is committed to affirming the powerful role that art and artists play in questioning, interpreting and defining the modern era. Open since October 2017, Remai Modern is the largest contemporary art museum in western Canada and houses a collection of more than 8,000 works, including the world’s foremost collection of Picasso linocut prints.

Remai Modern would like to acknowledge the contributions of the Frank & Ellen Remai Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, SaskCulture through the Sask Lotteries Fund, Sask Arts and the City of Saskatoon.

For additional information contact:

Stephanie McKay, Communications Manager