Forty years ago, Calgary-based photographer Lawrence Chrismas created a compelling ‘picture’ of Canmore just as the mines in the town were closing after almost 100 years of continuous operation. Fresh from the Banff Centre on a scholarship, he began interviewing and taking the portraits of miners as the world they knew was about to change dramatically. This important body of work led the landscape photographer into a new direction; today he has amassed a high-quality collection of 4,000 miners from across Canada. Now, Lawrence has returned to Canmore with a donation to the museum of black + white images from that first foray into mining. Join art curator and historian Mary-Beth Laviolette in an online presentation with the photographer and see some of his pictures of Canmore miners.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, photographer Lawrence Chrismas attended the University of Alaska and the University of Alberta, earning a Bachelor and a Master of Science Degree. He also attended Oxford, Indiana University, the Colorado School of Mines and McGill University, in addition to studying photography under a number of teachers and at the Banff School of Arts. Lawrence now lives in Calgary, Alberta.
Lawrence is a well-known and celebrated documentary photographer, focusing on the culture and history of Canadian coal miners. Having previously worked in the mining industry in a variety of capacities, his intimate knowledge allowed him to establish a camaraderie with this unique group of individuals. His long-term passion has led to the publication of six books, which include not only riveting pictures, but also the personal stories of his subjects.
Lawrence has been awarded a fellowship in the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum and was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1999. His work has been shown in exhibitions in Edmonton, Calgary, Banff, Canmore, Blairmore, Red Deer, Ottawa, Regina, Sydney (Nova Scotia) and Minto (New Brunswick). Lawrence has created permanent installations and pieces for a variety of public collections, including the Canada Council Art Bank, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, East Coulee School Museum, the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton City Hall, the Glenbow Museum, the Mendel Art Gallery, Minto Coal Museum, Ontario Art Bank, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies and the National Portrait Gallery of Canada.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Mary-Beth Laviolette, Canmore Museum Associate Curator of Art. Mary-Beth is an avid hiker and independent art writer and curator based in Canmore, Alberta, who specializes in Albertan and Western Canadian art. She is the author of A Delicate Art: Artists, Wildflowers and Native Plants of the West and An Alberta Art Chronicle: Adventures in Recent & Contemporary Art, 1970–2000, and co-author of Alberta Art & Artists: A Survey. Recent exhibitions she has curated include Reckonings: Michael Cameron & Karen Maiolo (Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff); Pulse: Alberta Society of Artists at 80 Years (Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts, Calgary) and Alberta Mistresses of the Modern: 1935 to 1975 (Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton). Mary-Beth is also a public speaker and enjoys engaging with the public about art whenever and wherever possible.