The Kitchener-Waterloo Arts Gallery (KWAG) has been based at Centre In The Square since 1980. The gallery aims to inspire a love of visual art in citizens of Waterloo Region and focuses on bringing contemporary art into its space.
Crystal Mowry, senior curator for KWAG, will leave the gallery this month after 15 years. Mowry will work with the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, where she will become the director of programs.
“As senior curator, I spend a lot of my time working closely with artists and my role is largely to develop our exhibition program, to guide our collecting efforts, and to oversee our publishing [and ensure it is] in line with our exhibition efforts,” Mowry said.
Mowry started working with KWAG in the Fall of 2005 as a curatorial assistant. During her tenure, she supported and displayed the works of diverse artists such as the works of racialized people, Indigenous people and women.
“I don’t think of myself as an academic, I’m not an art historian in the traditional sense, but I do see myself as a co-conspirator and a collaborator, and I suppose that is why I’m inclined to champion artists on the creation of new works and find ways to leverage institutional support, to create something meaningful with artists,” Mowry said.
With Mowry’s oversight, KWAG recently purchased a work from Black, Montreal-based artist Deanna Bowen. The gallery featured Bowen’s work Black Drones in the Hive which focuses on the relationship of colonialism to Black, Indigenous, and white history in this region.
Mowry is an important part of KWAG and the region’s art community. Shirley Madill, executive director of KWAG, recognized the impact Mowry has had on the gallery and the community.
“Crystal’s departure is a loss to the Gallery and community and it saddens us to see her go…The impact she has made in KWAG’s exhibition programming has been nothing short of remarkable,” Madill said.
“However, this is a terrific opportunity for her. The MacKenzie Art Gallery is a great gallery and I know that she will do extraordinary work there in this important position,” she said.
Mowry said that, although she is looking forward to her new position, she will miss working with KWAG.
“I absolutely love KWAG’s gallery spaces. When you’ve worked in an environment for this long, you can kind of walk the halls in your sleep, with your eyes closed. You can imagine how a show may take shape within those walls with very little effort. And a part of what I think I’m avoiding is imagining…or realizing that I’m going to have to learn a new space,” she said.
“There is kind of an entrepreneurial spirit in…Waterloo Region. I meet so many people who have ambition to create things that they feel don’t exist here… It’s a sensibility that I have yet to find matched elsewhere in Canada, and that’s something I really appreciate about this place and I know I’ll really miss that.”.