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Artist Bruce Head Acknowledged at Canadian Mennonite University
Bruce Head is one of a few young Manitoba artists whose work stimulated a dramatic surge in interest in contemporary art on the prairies.

Founders Hall, the classic stone building on the north side of the Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) Shaftesbury campus in southwest Winnipeg, is considered to be artistic by many. But the building is also home to a significant piece of art by Bruce Head, one of Canada's premier visual artists.

Mural: Students gather at CMU's Blaurock Café beneath the mural painted by Bruce Head in 1960.

In the 1950s, Head was one of a few young Manitoba artists whose work stimulated a dramatic surge in interest in contemporary art on the Canadian prairies. In 1960 he was commissioned to create a mural, titled The Four Seasons, for the dining room of the Manitoba Teacher's College – now CMU's Great Hall and home to the student-run Blaurock Café.

During an October 15, 2008, ceremony attended by staff and students, Head shared how the commission helped him get started as an artist.

"It was a wonderful experience," he said of the creation of the oil on plaster mural, which was painted over the winter of 1959-60. "It gave a big boost to my career as an artist to take up something this big."

In his remarks, CMU President Gerald Gerbrandt said that while the university is "quite fortunate" to own such a historical building, it is also fortunate to be home "to a true work of art" like the mural.

Knowing more about the artist, he said, "will make us look at the mural a little differently."

The ceremony was held in conjunction with a retrospective of Head's work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery titled Head Space: Five Decades of Bruce Head.

Born in St. Boniface in 1931, Head graduated from the University of Manitoba's School of Art in 1953. Since then, he has pursued an active career as a designer, painter and sculptor. He is the recipient of numerous awards, and his works have been exhibited in galleries across Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada.

In addition to the mural, CMU is home to two other significant works of art: In God's Image, a collection of art by 59 artists from around the world (curated by Winnipeg artist Ray Dirks), and The Hand: Jesus' Way to the Cross, a series of 14 prints by Winnipeg artist Betty Dimock. The Shaftesbury campus is also home to the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery.

John Longhurst is the director of communications and marketing for the Canadian Mennonite University. Phone: 487.3300.

Originally published on the CMU Website, October 2008.




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