About the Author: Camille Benton serves as a Curator for ART in EMBASSIES.
As the G-8 commences in Canada, we are reminded of the necessity to work together for mutual benefit. The Art in Embassies exhibition currently on view at Embassy Ottawa, Common Ground: American and Canadian Landscape Painting, celebrates the exchange of artistic expression between the United States and Canada as well as the natural beauty of our two countries.
During our conversations with Charles Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery of Canada, he talked about the impact of the visual arts on growth and development:
"For more than two centuries artists have discovered in these diverse landscapes new and more meaningful truths about themselves and, in turn, have influenced our respective national visions."
Most of the U.S.-based paintings in the exhibition were created by members of the Taos Society of Artists or their artistic progeny. Founded in 1915, the Taos Society advanced what its members saw as a uniquely American art, one based in the realistic depiction of the landscape's elemental forms and the local Native American cultural traditions. The majority of the Canadian paintings are from members of the Group of Seven, a group of landscape painters formed in the 1920s who took inspiration from the largely uninhabited and unmodified landscapes of Canada.
The two women artists represented in the exhibition were not official members of either school, although they were closely associated with them. Emily Carr was affiliated with the Group of Seven, and her work focused primarily on the landscape around her native Victoria, where she painted the intensely colored Autumn in 1923. Georgia O'Keeffe was closely connected with New Mexico, however her Green Mountain, Canada was inspired by a summer trip she made to the rugged Gaspe Peninsula in 1932.
Seeing these works together reminds us that our land is both our inheritance and our legacy.