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Art is a Mirror


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School Bd/College/University DVD: $195
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Grade Level: JrH-Adult
Producer: Moonbeam Productions
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 25 mins
Country of Origin: Canada
Study Guide: Yes

Copyright Date: 2007
Available in French: No

Have you ever heard of Arthur Shilling? How about Emile Borduas? Marc-Aurèle de Foy Susor Côté, perhaps? No? You're not alone. Most other Canadians haven't either. This is the story of a unique Canadian art project and its creator - a multi-talented and opinionated 78 year old artist with a life-long mission to make the names of Canadian painters as familiar and beloved to the average Canadian as those of Wayne Gretzky and Maurice Richard. To a lot of people, the world of art is the province of the wealthy and educated. Art education in public schools has been chopped in budget cuts for at least a decade. Little wonder that if you ask people on the street to name Canadian artists, most will be hard-pressed to come up with any besides the Group of Seven. Jeremie Giles response to this apathy and ignorance is a series of 72 portraits in posthumous homage to the painters that he considers to have been the most important and influential over the past two centuries of Canadian art. This series, which has cost him 3 years of his life and a fair bit of his own money, is called Art is a Mirror, because in Giles' view, a country and its people can best see their identity when it's reflected in the works of their artists. Giles is a charming raconteur who talks about the artists, their work and their times in the affectionate tones of someone telling anecdotes about old friends, as indeed some of these now-deceased artists were. The film uses his vividly-coloured acrylic paintings as jumping-off points for a voyage through 200-odd years of this country's visual art history, as seen through the quirky and unconventional perspective of a self-taught artist and utterly non-academic history buff. --- Pictured above is Giles' homage to Jack Shadbolt.