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Thelma Pepper

Thelma Pepper is well known for her portrait photography as well as for her composite panoramic landscapes. Intimacy is an essential element in Pepper’s portraits. She only photographs people after she has spent weeks and often months getting to know them. This gives her portraits a particularly candid quality. As one of her peers commented, there is a distinct lack of tension in her portraits, her subjects are always comfortable and at ease.

Pepper’s landscape photography evolved directly from her portrait work. As she came to know her portrait subjects, she often travelled to the small towns from which they had come to photograph both the sites themselves, and the experiences of those people revisiting them after many years. The series of abandoned farmyards and run-down farmhouses featured in “Decades of Voices” lead Pepper to embark on her “Places of Belonging” series, which began as an exploration of the towns along Highway 41 that are slowly disappearing or already gone. This series ultimately came to include several portraits as well. The photographs remain as records of a vanishing (and in some cases, already vanished) prairie lifestyle, and changing landscape.

It is interesting that throughout Pepper’s career, one constantly recurring theme has been the interconnected relationship between people and places. For Pepper, geography is one of the foundational elements in the development of a personal identity. Originally from the East Coast, she maintains somewhat of an outsider’s perspective on Saskatchewan and its people, even though she has lived here for over half a century. Ultimately, it is this objectivity - this ability to see beyond the surface of things to uncover the beauty and significance in the seemingly mundane or ordinary - that makes her photographs so engaging.

Curriculum Vitae

Born: 1921, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

Education:

1943, B.Sc. Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
1945, M.Sc., Botany, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec

Exhibitions & Collections

2014 - Highway 41 Revisited The Gallery/Art Placement Inc., Saskatoon

2009 - Untie the Spirit: Shellbrook - Rosthern - Yorkton

2008 - Untie the Spirit: Red Deer, Alberta - Esterhazy - Shaunavon - Bengough - Estevan - Weyburn - Kipling - Melfort - Hudson Bay - Quill Lake

2007 - Untie the Spirit: Fort Qu'Appelle - Melville - Kindersley - Battlefords - Biggar - Outlook - Prince Albert - La Ronge

2006 - Untie the Spirit: Sherbrooke Community Centre

1996 - Spaces of Belong-A Journey along Highway 41: Mendel Art Gallery: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

1995 - Decades of Voices-Permanent Collection: Kenderdine Art Gallery: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon

1995 - Decades of Voices: Inverness Museum and Art Gallery: Inverness, Scotland

1995 - Spaces of Belonging - A Journey along Highway 41: The Little Gallery: Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

1994-95 - Search, Image and Identity: Voicing Our West: Photographers Gallery: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -
Struts Gallery: Sackville, New Brunswick - Gallery 44: Toronto, Ontario - Kelowna Art Gallery: Kelowna, British Columbia - Floating Gallery: Winnipeg, Manitoba - Open Space: Victoria, British Columbia - Truck Gallery: Calgary, Alberta - Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies: Banff, Alberta


1993 - Spaces of Belonging - A Journey Along Highway 41: Workshop Gallery, Photographers Gallery: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

1990-93 - Decades of Voices: Photographers Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Gallery 44, Toronto, Ontario Northern Life Museum, Fort Smith, Northwest Territories Moose Jaw art Museum, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Swift Current National Exhibition Centre, Swift Current, Saskatchewan Muttart art Gallery, Calgary, Alberta Float Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba Acadia University Art Gallery, Wolfville, Nova Scotia St. Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia Eastern Edge, St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario Dunlop Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan Estevan National Exhibition, Estevan, Saskatchewan

1992 - Woman and the Documentary Photograph: Invited by Richard Baillargeon as guest speaker, Banff Centre of the Arts, Banff, Alberta

1990 - Saskatchewan Open '90 : Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

1990 - Dmytro Stryjek Photographs-Permanent Collection: MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan

1987 - Saskatchewan '87: Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta

1987 - Saskatchewan Arts Board: Photographs accepted for permanent collection - Regina, Saskatchewan

1986 - National Portrait Show: Photographers Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

1986 - Portfolio Grouping: Photographers Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

1986-87 - A Visual Heritage, Images of the Past, 1900-1930: Diefenbaker Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Macdonald Museum, Middleton, Nova Scotia

Awards

2018 Saskatchewan Order of Merit

2014 Saskatchewan Arts Board Lifetime Recipient Award

 

 


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