Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Digital Art Exhibit in Winnipeg Shows Another Side of an Iconic Musician


Most people know Buffy Sainte-Marie from her decades-long groundbreaking music career or her work in activism and education.

But a new exhibition at a Winnipeg art gallery showcases a lesser-known side of the Canadian icon by showcasing his innovative digital works.

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Pathfinder, an exhibition at the Urban Shaman gallery in the city’s Stock Exchange district, features 16 of her digital paintings, as well as never-before-seen sketches, artifacts and behind-the-scenes photos.

Curator Natasha Lowenthal thinks the exhibition will appeal to fans of Sainte-Marie, as well as those who are not as familiar with her work.

The collection is an opportunity “for everyone to fully understand [Buffy’s] role in the broader arts and culture scene,” says Lowenthal.

Although the artwork in the exhibition cannot be taken out of context of St. Mary’s music, activism and writing, the paintings highlight “a different voice” of the artist, says Lowenthal.

“There’s a whole new side to the understanding that you come to when you look at an artist’s visual art,” she said in a phone interview with CBC News.

“Nothing is departmentalized with [Buffy]. It’s all interconnected, and that’s a very conscious thing for her.”

Sainte-Marie began working on the paintings when personal computers, like this first Macintosh, were in their infancy. (Robert Snowbird)

Pathfinder offers a unique insight into Sainte-Marie’s creative process and represents the most comprehensive survey of her digital paintings to date, according to an online description of the exhibition.

While digital art is now an established genre, Sainte-Marie started working on digital paintings before “using a computer for art was even a concept yet,” Lowenthal said.

“She had to create these beautiful paintings one pixel at a time. She was really innovative in the way that she also used all the additional technology, like she was scanning images and working with a Macintosh [computer] it was literally the first model,” she said.

“In an age where we have presets and filters and a whole host of tools, [Buffy] had the opposite.”

The exhibition, presented in partnership with the Winnipeg Gallery Ace Art Inc. and Paquin Entertainment Group, opened at Urban Shaman on December 17 and is scheduled to run through March 5.

However, after opening, the gallery temporarily closed to the public in response to rising COVID-19 numbers and public health orders. A virtual gallery is in preparation and will be soon available on its website, says Urban Shaman.

The exhibit will travel at least North America and hopefully around the world in the coming years, Lowenthal said.

“It’s a new window into the life of someone who is truly an authentic artist, who truly looks at the arts holistically, and who is always finding new ways to reach out and connect,” he said. she declared.

“It really is a world-class exhibit.”


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