• photo by Mike Ewanus

About me

Marlena Wyman: Edmonton, Alberta

Marlena was raised on her parents’ farm near Rockyford, Alberta, which had originally been farmed by her paternal grandparents. She has lived in Edmonton since 1974. History is an inspirational source for Marlena’s creative work, fed in part by her long-time work as Audio-Visual Archivist at the Provincial Archives of Alberta. She left the Archives in 2011 to more fully pursue her work as a visual artist.

Marlena served as the City of Edmonton’s 5th Historian Laureate, 2018 – 2020. She studied visual art, history and education at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. Her work has been exhibited in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Newfoundland, and is included in private and public collections in Canada and the United States.

Prairie landscape and sky, the work and heritage of rural life, and primary source archival research all inform her creative expression. The consuming immensity and isolation of the prairie environment is a recurring theme in the diaries and letters of early immigrants to the prairies, and a compelling influence for her artistic vision, underlined by her own memories of growing up in rural Alberta.

In her former work as an archivist, Marlena found that one of the significant gaps in archival collections is that of women’s stories. In particular, the voice of early prairie women is largely excluded from mainstream history.

As an artist, she honours these women’s considerable contributions, advocates for their rightful place in history, and encourages women to deposit their own and their foremothers’ records in archives.

Marlena is the recipient of several awards including the Edmonton Historical Board Recognition Award for her contributions to archives and visual arts. She has been awarded artists’ residencies in Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, is a co-founder of Urban Sketchers Edmonton, and served as the Secretary of the Women’s Art Museum Society of Canada.

Marlena’s art practice is an investigation into the concepts of memory and our relationship with the natural world and the material culture of our society. It is an examination of human passage and migration, uprootedness, the perception of what is home, and the longing for the familiar of the past. Her artwork is expressed through works in encaustic and oil painting, image transfer, drawing, 3-dimensional mixed media and installation.

Marlena is represented by Bugera Matheson Gallery in Edmonton. https://bugeramathesongallery.com/

Marlena Wyman CV

Solo Exhibits (selected):

2022   Home                           Metro Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2018   Regarding Mary       Bleeding Heart Art Space, Edmonton, AB

2018, 2016  Illuminating the Diary of Alda Dale Randall   2018: Okotoks Art Gallery, Okotoks, AB     2016: Provincial Archives of Alberta, Edmonton, AB

2017   Headwind                                     Ortona Gallery, Edmonton, AB    

2016, 2013   The Effect of Collected Memory on the Adorned Body  2016: Mile Zero Spazio Performativo, Edmonton, AB     2013: The Works Art & Design Festival, Edmonton, AB

2014    Landing Hard                             Prairie Wind & Silver Sage Gallery, Val Marie, SK

2014    The Sisterhood of Longing      Jackson Power Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2013    The Effect of Collected Memory on the Adorned Body     The Works Art & Design Festival, Edmonton, AB

2006    The Tablets of Memory           Ortona Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2005    Ortona Gallery 10th Anniversary – Marlena Wyman Retrospective   Ortona Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2004    Hothouse Heart                      Ortona Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2001    The Body Botanical                Ortona Gallery, Edmonton, AB

1999    Cabinets of Curiosity              Ortona Gallery, Edmonton, AB

1998    This Mortal Coil                       Manifesto Gallery, Edmonton, AB

1997    Metamorphology                     Old Court House Gallery, Red Deer, AB

Group Exhibits (selected):

2022       Hidden Gems                         Bugera Matheson Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2020      You Are Not Alone                Penticton Art Gallery, Penticton BC and Salon Am Moritzplatz, Berlin, Germany

2019 – 2021      Real Women               Art Gallery of Alberta/Alberta Foundation for Arts TREX program (traveling exhibition: NE and North Central Alberta)

2018     Archived Land                          Jackson Power Gallery, Edmonton, AB (September 14-29)

2017     In/Hospitable                           SkirtsAfire Festival, Nina Haggerty Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2016     Voices for the Vote                  Borealis Gallery, Alberta Legislative Assembly Visitors’ Centre, Edmonton                                                                       www.voicesforthevote.ca

 2015    Women Portraying Women   Visual Arts Studio Assoc., St. Albert, AB

2014     Bread Basket                             Visual Arts Alberta/CARFAC members exhibit, Edmonton, AB

2013     InSight 2: Engaging the Health Humanities   Fine Arts Building Gallery, University of Alberta

2012     InSight: Visualizing Health Humanities           Fine Arts Building Gallery, University of Alberta

2010     For Gilbert                                The Works Art and Design Festival, Edmonton, AB

2010     The Boxn’t T-Shirt Project     The Works Art and Design Festival, Edmonton, AB

2010     Ortona Gallery 15th Anniversary Exhibit     Ortona Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2008     The Useful Lessons of Plants   The Glenrose Hospital Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2006     September’s Work                      St. George’s Church Cultural Centre, Brigus, NL

2004     Have a heART                             The Works Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2002     The Print Farm Show                  U of Alberta Extension Gallery, Edmonton & Milner Art Gallery,                                                                                        Stanley A. Milner Library

2002      Anatomical Gardens/ Shadows of  Mortality   Ironworks Gallery, Vancouver, BC

Publications and Other Projects:

2021        Interviewed for article Mentorship as Social Sculpture by Megan Klak in Galleries West magazine, 28 June 2021 issue: https://www.gallerieswest.ca/magazine/stories/mentorship-as-social-sculpture/

2021        Co-presenter, Edmonton & District Historical Society virtual talk with Adriana Davies: Ring Houses: The Sense of Place and Art, 6 July 2021: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA8PQ6drayY

2019 – 2020      Sketching History: Rediscovering Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage through Urban Sketching  Curator of exhibit featuring artworks by Urban Sketchers Edmonton  https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/edmonton_archives/sketching-history.aspx             Prince of Wales Armouries and Edmonton Public Library branches

2004-2018  Art jury member for various galleries

2016-2018 Artist Mentor, Visual Arts Alberta Association/Edmonton Arts Council

2016    Creating an Archival Sketching Diary workshops, Provincial Archives of Alberta

2016    Artist member for panel presentation at The Works Art & Design Festival

2016    Artist member for panel discussion re: Voices for the Vote exhibit

2014    Curator, The Memory Rooms exhibit, Jackson Power Gallery, Edmonton, AB

2014    Section Editor, Women’s Art Museum Society of Canada Sharing Her Experience publication   http://www.wamsoc.ca/SHE.html

2013-2016       Women’s Art Museum Society of Canada, Secretary & Archives Committee Chair, Jury member

2012-2013       InSight exhibit catalogues and websites

insight2.healthhumanities.ca/exhibition/exhibitors.html#takeleaf

http://insight.healthhumanities.ca/#exhibits/serpens-oleum-the-phantasmagoric-amphigorium-of-dr-wybury

2011    Urban Sketchers Edmonton   Founding member http://edmontonsketchers.wordpress.com/

2011    Brooklyn Art Library, N.Y., The Art House Co-op The Sketchbook Project, artist contributor https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/2817

2008    Edmonton Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Event     exhibitor/nominee  Audience Choice Arts Award

2004    Alberta Heritage Foundation For Medical Research Magazine, illustration for article

2002    Museum Mannequins:A Guide for  Creating the Perfect Fit, back cover illustration & poster
(book edited by Margot Brunn and Joanne White, published by the Alberta Regional Group of Conservators)   

2001    Art, Science and Education: Connections Within the Lives of Three Artists by Betty Macdonald
(one of three artists studied in Master’s Thesis, Dept. of Elem. Education, University of Alberta)

Awards:

2022               Edmonton Arts Council Artist’s Residency, Yorath House

2018 – 2020     City of Edmonton Historian Laureate

2019                 Edmonton Heritage Council project accelerator grant for Sketching History exhibit

2013                 Wallace Stegner House Artist’s Residency, Eastend, SK

2013, 2006       Edmonton Arts Council, Travel Grants

2011                 Edmonton Historical Board Historical Recognition Award in archives & visual arts

2010                 Archives Society of Alberta, Honourary Lifetime Membership

2006                 Pouch Cove Foundation Artist’s Residency, Newfoundland

2003                 Association of Moving Image Archivists, Hollywood, CA: Dan & Kathy Leab Award

2001                Alberta Foundation for the Arts – Art Acquisition

Memberships:

Visual Arts Alberta Association/Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes  canadiens

Edmonton Arts Council

Harcourt House Artists’ Run Centre, Edmonton, Alberta

Women’s Art Museum Society of Canada

Artists in Canada

Archives Society of Alberta – Honourary Member

Edmonton Heritage Council

Friends of the Provincial Archives of Alberta Society

Truth and Reconciliation:

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which early prairie immigrants settled are the traditional meeting grounds, gathering places, and travelling routes of the many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit whose footsteps have marked these lands for centuries.

Because of the subject matter of my Prairie Series, I feel I must speak to truth and reconciliation. It is not my place to tell the story of indigenous people through my artwork, but because my subject matter lands soundly in the midst of that, I offer my support. This is not an area of expertise for me, but I am trying to learn.

My words are guided by my friend Joseph Naytowhow, an interdisciplinary artist and Nehiyo/Cree knowledge keeper from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation Band in Saskatchewan, and a kind and good man. I thank him for his guidance.

Much of the focus in my art practice is about the first women to immigrate to the Canadian prairies and about their lack of freedom and rights.  It is therefore about settlement, which took over indigenous lands and disregarded treaties. When speaking of women’s rights and treatment, indigenous women have always carried the heaviest burden of oppression and harm.

Settlement is part of my heritage. My paternal grandparents were part of the government’s prairie settlement plan, coming to farm at Baintree, Alberta in 1916.  My parents farmed there after them, and that was the land where I spent my childhood. My grandparents left few photos, and almost no written legacy, so I have no idea what their attitude or interaction was with indigenous people, for good or bad. I suspect that, as is the case with many settlers, they likely were not aware that they were part of a bad deal for indigenous people; that they were a part of the government’s scheme to have the west populated in order to protect it from perceived American threat.  Nonetheless, they were the beneficiaries of what was done before they came here, as am I.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, immigrants were lured to the prairies by government propaganda promising a utopia that sadly did not exist. Their lack of knowledge about living within the harsh prairie environment caused these families poverty, starvation, and for some, death. What is not told is that indigenous people often came to their aid, sharing meat or fish, and showing them how to use the plants on the land for food and medicine.

The true story of settlement is very different than the glowing picture that government propaganda conveyed. These settlers fought to tame the soil that was often not suited for cultivation, and the wind then took the soil from them. The percentage of homestead failure among early settlers was 57 percent in Saskatchewan and 45 percent in Alberta. However, for the settlers, theirs was a suffering of neglect, not of intent. Great harm was done to indigenous people of that time, and it has continued for generations. Canada’s relationship with indigenous people has been deceitful and horrific. It must be acknowledged that government and churches committed genocide, and that as individuals we have had our part in the harm too. It is time for a renewed, repaired and honourable relationship.

Marlena Wyman

Media:

https://okotoksonline.com/local/homesteader-s-diary-inspires-new-art-gallery-exhibit

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/grandmothers-diary-of-homesteading-life-inspires-art-exhibit-and-impromptu-family-reunion

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/programs/homestretch/illuminating-the-diary-of-alda-dale-randall-1.3444932

http://www.thelocalgood.ca/a-collector-at-heart/

http://inhabitat.com/nyc/the-brooklyn-art-library-lets-visitors-check-out-thousands-of-entries-from-the-sketchbook-project/art-library-armstrong-wyman8/