Joe Fafard

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Joe Fafard, Auguste (detail), 1993, Private Collection (Courtesy of the Douglas Udell Gallery)


November 22, 2008-February 8, 2009

From November 22 to February 8, visitors to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia will have an opportunity to admire the impressive works – ceramic, bronze, plaster, and steel sculptures, as well as works on paper – of artist Joe Fafard. Considered one of Canada’s finest sculptors, people are “fascinated by his skill and ability to observe the minute” says National Gallery of Canada director Pierre Théberge.  Organized by the NGC in partnership with Regina’s MacKenzie Art Gallery, Joe Fafard is the artist’s first major retrospective, covering a period of more than forty years.

Joe Fafard brings together a rich and varied selection of the artist’s works since his career began in the 1960s. Widely known for his menagerie of sculpted cows, horses, and other farm animals, Fafard has also immortalized politicians and artists both past and present, friends, and members of his own family. Inspired by his life in the Canadian prairies, his works are recognized throughout Canada and around the world.

Terrence Heath, curator of Joe Fafard and the artist’s biographer, writes, “This retrospective is built on two key objectives: to show the evolution of the work and to give viewers an opportunity to marvel at its diversity. First, there is the succession of materials used – plaster, earthenware, bronze, steel. There are also changes in scale, from less than life size than to more than life size, but never exactly life size. Then there is the variety of themes, from specific to universal, from the perceived to the imaginary, from the statement to the revelation. The diversity is expressed through works from Joe’s early career up to major public commissions and portraits, from traditional to experimental, from functional to monumental.”

Fafard was born to French-Canadian parents in the small agricultural community of Ste. Marthe, Saskatchewan. He attended the University of Manitoba (BFA 1966) and Pennsylvania State University (MFA 1968). He was at the University of Saskatchewan, Regina from 1968 - 1974 and visiting lecturer at the University of California at Davis in 1980-1981. Joe Fafard is a distinguished full-time artist and sculptor who currently resides on an acreage near Lumsden, Saskatchewan.  In the early 1970s, Fafard sculpted mainly with clay. In the eighties, he shifted to bronze as his chief sculptural medium. His work in bronze is displayed across Canada and his 'cows' have become one of his trademarks.

Fafard’s contributions to the arts have significantly raised the profile of both Saskatchewan and Canada on the international stage. As one of Canada's leading professional visual artists, he has had the chance to exhibit a variety of his work in galleries and museums across the country and around the world, including the United States, Great Britain, France and Japan.

He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1981; awarded the Architectural Institute of Canada Allied Arts Award in 1987; received an honorary Degree from the University of Regina in 1989, and from the University of Manitoba in 2007.


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