The 1970s: On the Flip Side
March 28 – May 16, 2014
Helen Christou Gallery | LINC | Level 9

March 28 – May 16, 2014
Helen Christou Gallery
Curator: Noemi Guzman & Kaitlynn Smart, Museum Studies Interns
Works from the Galt Museum & Archives and the U of L Art Collection, in conjunction with Historic Lethbridge Festival.

Continuing the theme developed over the past 4 years of focusing on a decade in Lethbridge’s history and corresponding art practice represented in the U of L Art Collection, senior students in the Art History/Museum Studies program will curate an exhibition about life in the 1970s from the U of L art collection and the Sir Alexander Galt Museum and Archives. In conjunction with Historic Lethbridge Festival.

The 1970s: On the Flip Side

The 1970s were a time of social upheaval and political drama with issues and social progressive values that began in the 1960s continuing into the 1970s. By the mid-’70s, societal community and progress shifted to an emphasis on self-interest and the era became known as “The ‘Me’ Decade.” The term—coined by novelist Tom Wolfe—describes a general new attitude amongst western society towards “atomized individualism” and away from the “communitarianism” associated with the 1960s.

With the Vietnam War persisting until 1975, there was still a climate of political activism and debate during the first half of the decade. Protests and political movements regarding fundamental human rights and freedoms were reflective of wider social and political attitudes developing in other Western countries. It was only towards the middle of the decade that the new individualistic attitude began to manifest itself. This mentality allotted for a new sense of self-direction associated with economic prosperity.

The artworks which we selected for this exhibition do not speak directly to these changing social and political concerns, but rather they address how these climates affected the content and execution of art production during this psychedelic decade. Starting from an assignment to select work from the 1970s in the U of L Art Collection, we identified art of this era that speaks to the changing roles of individuals in society and arises from a context characterized by individualism over collective action and a changing social, political, and cultural environment. To reflect these attitudes, we selected a range of artists who deal with these ideas: John Will, known for his satire of political and popular culture; Robert Young, whose work critiques utopian political agendas; Don Kane whose work depicts Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; and John Boyle who pays homage to both the popular and unknown own heroes of Canada.

– Noemi Guzman & Kaitlynn Smart
Museum Studies Interns, Dept. of Art