Mary Kavanagh | The Myth of Consensus


Mary Kavanagh: Trinity 3 // The Myth of Consensus

Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery
Join us in celebrating the launch of the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery’s winter exhibitions at our Opening Reception on Thursday 13 February at 7:00 pm.

Mary Kavanagh: Trinity 3

Curated by Crystal Mowry
13 February to 10 May 2020
Artist Talk with Mary Kavanagh: Wednesday 12 February, 7:00 pm

Trinity Site, New Mexico, marks the testing of the world’s first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945, three weeks prior to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Under the auspices of the Manhattan Project, the development and use of atomic weapons presented new orders of destructive capability. Today the 8,300 square kilometer range surrounding the original test site is named the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) and remains active in the steady advancement of increasingly sophisticated military technologies. Two days each year, the WSMR Public Affairs Office hosts an Open House, during which thousands of visitors come to experience the place where the atomic age began.

Since her first visit in 2012, Mary Kavanagh has collected hundreds of interviews on site that reveal a wide range of motivations and interests among those making the journey. Several threads emerge across these interviews—an understanding of the site as sacred; an interest in big science and nuclear technology; anxiety about nuclear war, waste and fallout; and guilt about the use of nuclear weapons on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Trinity 3 Kavanagh intersperses these interviews with footage of the missile range as well as archival footage of the bomb test preparations, creating a filmic montage that is in turn jarring, poetic and inscrutable.

Mary Kavanagh is a Professor in the Department of Art, University of Lethbridge. Her research interests include feminist political ecology, technologies of war, and histories of science. For over twenty years, Kavanagh’s artwork has been presented in solo and group exhibitions in Canada and abroad. She is an advisory member of the Atomic Photographers Guild, Montreal, and an Associate Member of the Centre for Documentary Studies, School of Image Arts, Ryerson University, Toronto.

A forthcoming catalogue with essays by Peter C. van Wyck and Jayne Wilkinson will be produced in partnership with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the Founders’ Gallery at the University of Calgary.

This project is generously supported by KWAG’s Women of Influence for Women’s Art, a network of visionary donors dedicated to bolstering the representation of women in our Permanent Collection and exhibitions.


The Myth of Consensus

Featuring works from the Permanent Collection and a commissioned response by Aislinn Thomas

Curated by Crystal Mowry
13 February to 5 April 2020
Artist Talk with Aislinn Thomas: Thursday 12 March, 7:00 pm

On February 15, 1965 Canada debuted its new national flag – an act bound up with aspiration and declarations of so-called sovereignty. Ubiquitous and deceptively simple, the national flag is something to which we now give little thought. By looking closer at its form, we might be surprised to find similarities with a basic understanding of what a painting can be: a piece of fabric with brightly coloured lines or simplified shapes that hold symbolic meaning for a group of people.

The decade following Canada’s adoption of the maple leaf flag as a symbol of national unity would reveal a country fraying at its seams. The bloom of counter-cultures and constitutional separatism mobilized a rebellious new generation of citizens. Against this cultural backdrop, artists sought out innovative ways to give voice to an era of rapid societal change, turning away from traditional modes of representation and towards abstraction.

The Myth of Consensus convenes rarely-seen abstract works from the Permanent Collection dating from 1960 to 1980. Bombastic, moody, and rich in hue, these works provide a snapshot of a different nation taking shape in the studios of artists across the country.

On the occasion of this exhibition, KWAG has commissioned Kitchener-based artist Aislinn Thomas to create a contemporary response to selected works on view. Working closely with intergenerational volunteers from the public and adopting an experimental approach to visual description, Thomas will develop her project while the exhibition is on view and share the results during the latter half of its run.

Related Programs:

Feast for the Senses 11 – Chef Kyle Rennie of King Street Trio presents a decadent tasting menu with drink pairings inspired by our upcoming exhibitions on Thursday 27 February from 7-10 pm. Supported by Gowling WLG.

Walk the Talk: Gallery Tour – A free guided tour of our fall exhibitions will be offered on Thursday 5 March at 6:30 pm. Supported by the Gamble Family.


Artist Talks at KWAG are kindly supported by Momentum Developments and Sorbara Law.

Free admission to all exhibitions is sponsored by Sun Life Financial.

Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery
101 Queen Street North
Kitchener, ON N2H 6P7 | 519-579-5830

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Tues-Wed 9:30-5, Thu 9:30-9, Fri 9:30-5, Sat 10-5, Sun 1-5
Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery is an accessible venue and certified as dementia friendly through the Blue Umbrella Project®.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery respectfully acknowledges that we are located on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron (Neutral), Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The Haldimand Tract, land promised to Six Nations, includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.

Stephanie Vegh
Manager, Media and Communications | 519-579-5860 x 218

Images (from top):
Mary Kavanagh, stills from Trinity 3, 2019-2020. Two channel video installation. Image courtesy of the Artist.
Rita Letendre, Asor, 1979. Edition 57 of 100. Serigraph, 46 x 61.2 cm. Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery purchase, with matching funds from the Ministry of Culture and Recreation (Wintario), 1980. © Rita Letendre. Photo: KWAG.