Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A web of mindfulness

Joyce Sasse - The situation for single, professional women in Annora Brown’s time was vibrant with opportunity – and she was more than capable of living up to the challenge.  Stimulating networks of support were quietly emerging. Members of farm women’s, church and Women’s Institute groups were seriously contributing (often from pennies saved in their sugar bowls) to send female university graduates to jobs across Canada and around the world.

Emily Carr (1871 – 1945), with her eccentric life-style, gained recognition as a “west coast painter of Indian subjects and rain forests”. The two artists must have connected while Annora studied in Toronto, and also through common McGill University connections.

Gabrielle Roy (1909 – 1983), a child who grew up in St. Boniface, wrote about her feelings of aloneness “in an ocean of prairies”. Coming from Acadia, she understood the immigrant experience of feeling humiliated by those “who thought Europe to be the centre of intelligence and refinement”. Her work was starting to be published by 1945. Would Annora’s Winnipeg connections have acquainted her with Roy’s work?

Suffragettes did much more than campaign for women’s right-to-vote. From her personal connections with “Famous Five” members, Brown undoubtedly heard about Nellie McClung’s creative writings. The story is told of how these women celebrated a particularly successful dramatic presentation by marching to the milliner’s for new hats, then off to have their photos taken.

Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was published in ’62. She (1908 – 1964) was a gifted thinker and writer who spent her life trying to awaken the public’s environmental consciousness. “She intended to disturb and disrupt, and she did so with dignity and deliberation.” Her legacy was to help people sense the interconnected fabric-of-life. Did this thinking resonate with our Fort Macleod historian-conservationist-writer-artist?

How has this legacy of women’s astuteness affected today’s society?

Where can the public see Annora Brown’s paintings? We want to build an inventory of locations.

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