Heart/Coeur. Painting by Sébastien Hardy

Fourth Annual Art Exhibition Moves Online

By Matt Prokopchuk

An online art exhibit is showcasing the vast array of talent in the Thunder Bay area’s Francophone community.

The fourth annual La Francophonie dans tous ses états exhibition has moved online this year. This year’s showcase features 17 artists from a variety of disciplines who are either French-speaking or otherwise tied to the Francophone community. Conceived in 2018 by Sébastien Hardy and Céline Mundinger (who are both featured), and supported by the Club culturel francophone de Thunder Bay, the 2021 virtual exhibit includes artists’ work alongside video interviews with the creators. 

They wanted to kind of find and unite these Francophone artists to kind of show Thunder Bay that French is also strong culturally and has something to bring to the cultural scene,” Céline Marti says of the original drive behind the exhibit. Marti has a background in art history and interviewed the artists for this year’s videos. “When I think Francophone, there are people who are from northern Ontario, people who speak French as a second language, people who lost their French and are trying to relearn it[…]and then of course people who have French as a first language.” This year’s exhibit showcases a variety of styles, including abstract to figurative paintings, installations, photography, and video.

Along with Hardy and Mundinger, other featured artists include Luc Després, Michel Dumont, and Isabelle Lemée. Marti says the shift from a typical in-person exhibit to the virtual realm forced organizers to rethink what they’re doing, although the new format does have its advantages, namely that people can “see this exhibit whenever you want and spend[…]the amount of time that you’d like to.” She adds that the interviews also add a bit of interactivity as viewers get to hear the artists speak about their works and what inspired them. The video interviews were shot and produced by local filmmaker Kelly Saxberg, whose art is also featured in the exhibit.

It allows you to, yes, see the work and I’m the first one to say, having studied art history and museum studies, that it’s difficult to really appreciate[…], when you’re on your computer, it’s not exactly the same,” Marti says. “But I think that having the opportunity to have the artists speak about the work is really a unique opportunity ‘cause you rarely get that when you visit exhibits.”

To visit the online exhibit, go to ccftb.ca/activites/la-francophonie-dans-tous-ses-etat