January 11–February 8, 1997
Wayne Arsenault is fascinated with exploring the nuances of his own Acadian culture and has produced a painterly narrative that explores the internalized landscape of familial history and the external physical landscape of Acadia. His exhibition at Artspeak Gallery consists of a series of painted juxtapositions in which the artist stitched together fragments of family memories with archival imagery of his Acadian heritage. This visual splicing of images (both real and imagined) functioned to tell another version of the social history of Acadian everyday life.
In mapping the traces of personal experience onto the “official” canvas of Acadia, the artist reminds us of the contingency of historical representations and the deliberate means by which histories are edited and re-written. “What is presented [as history] is in fact always selective: an intentionally selective version of a shaping past and a preshaped present which is powerfully operative in the process of social and cultural definitions and identifications.”
Moreover, in acknowledging the personal—his mother’s floral china patterns, family snap-shots and recollections from childhood vacations in the Maritimes—the artist was able to identify and reclaim subjective memories in order to construct a larger collective history of place.