Around the Art World in 52 Weeks – Landon Mackenzie, Canada

Tuesday, March 08 2016

To celebrate International Women’s Day on May 8, 2016, we’d like to talk about Vancouver-based artist, Landon Mackenzie. Her works were part of the exhibition: Emily Carr and Landon Mackenzie: Wood Chopper and the Monkey at the Vancouver Art Gallery (“VAG”) last year. According to’s April 21, 2015 article "Canadian's Galleries Fall Short: The Not-So Great White North", only 15% of contemporary solo exhibitions by living artists at the VAG featured female artists. Across the nation, the number is slightly higher at 36%, although women represent 63% of living artists nationwide. Despite the statistics, seeing Mackenzie’s large-scale works in person was such a delightful experience.

Mackenzie has been living in Vancouver for the last twenty-five years. In 1981, while living in Montreal, she gained recognition after winning first prize in the Quebec biennale. She is best known for her large scale abstract works that examine ideas of identity, history and place while confronting tradition of landscape painting.   

Mackenzie comes from a family of artists. She is the great-granddaughter, granddaughter and niece of skilled painters. Her parents were also proponents of the arts. Thus, she grew up in an environment enriched with visual imagery and artistic ideas.

In her work Tracking Athabasca (Short Lines) Network of Stoppages 1998-99 (see the first image below), Mackenzie examined and drew inspiration from archival maps and related historical documents. She creates complex topographic images through the layering of paint and the inclusion of rich symbols. She references and questions map-making tradition and the notion of political borders.

With all the social movements to pledge for parity, perhaps we don’t need to wait till 2116 to see more solo exhibitions by living female artists at the nation’s public institutions. What’s the related statistic in your country? Worldwide, women are under-presented in many sectors and industries. This is not an isolated issue for women in art. However, collectively, we can make the change. You too can make the change by voting for the world with your buying power. Be conscious of where you spend your money while still buying the things you love. 

Image (above) credit: Love It Art


Image credit: Landon Mackenzie, except for the one indicated as by Love It Art.