On July 28, 2021, the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (KWAG) announced the appointment of curator Darryn Doull.
The search for a new curator began in May after KWAG announced the departure of Crystal Mowry. Mowry left for an opportunity at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina at the beginning of August.
Doull officially joined the Gallery on Aug. 23.
“Watching the work that Crystal [Mowry] has done over the last few years, and the exhibitions and the publications that the gallery has been able to produce, I’ve always been impressed,” Doull said.
The vibrant arts and culture scene in Waterloo Region has left a similar impact on Doull.
“That sort of energy is really exciting and attractive to me,” he said. “I look at the region, I see the innovation that’s happening and it’s pretty inspiring. It’s exciting to know that people are working hard to find success and to define success in new ways.”
Doull is no stranger to the area, either—he received a fine arts degree from the University of Guelph. After graduating, Doull worked in different roles at Gallery Lambton in Sarnia, Ontario, before accepting the position of assistant curator at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia. He joined the gallery at the beginning of a major capital campaign to construct a brand new facility in downtown Sarnia.
“That’s an opportunity that maybe comes around once, maybe twice in your career if you’re lucky. It was the chance to think about what an art gallery, especially a regional art gallery, means and looks like and actually put those thoughts into practice,” he said.
The role came with its challenges, Doull said. He went on to spend much of his time in Sarnia discussing the value and importance of having an art gallery with community members.
“A lot of people were wondering why we need an art gallery. ‘Why do we need to build this thing? Why do we need to invest the money here when there’s other issues in the community,’” Doull said.
Despite some initial hesitation in the community, the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery has become a keystone of downtown revitalization in Sarnia since opening in 2012.
“It started a whole renaissance of the downtown core that’s continuing today,” Doull said.
“Buildings getting fixed up, all the vacant apartments and storefronts being filled, and people living there—it’s a whole new energy.”
Seeing the gallery’s impact in Sarnia has shaped how Doull views the importance of art and how it can affect an entire community. He hopes to transfer his knowledge and skills from this experience to his new role at KWAG.
“There’s a power and potential of a public art gallery to be a catalyst that activates the community to help bring us closer to the sustainable future that we want,” he said.
“[KWAG] is the place where those things can happen…where we can meet each other and have those conversations,” Doull said.
“It’s the sort of space where we can collectively define and dismantle inequalities and shortcomings of the modern state and build those ways forward, together.”
Prior to his appointment at KWAG, Doull also worked as the curator of Canadian art at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Citing the strict travel restrictions in Atlantic Canada as a major catalyst, Doull decided to move back to Ontario to be closer to his loved ones and began to search for local jobs.
“As soon as I saw the position at KWAG, I knew right away that it was the perfect fit,” Doull said.
“Even going back to my days in Guelph, KWAG was always a gallery that knew to punch above its weight to always exceed expectations.”
Alex Kinsella is a freelance content marketer and writer based in Waterloo Region, Ontario. He's behind the TL;WR newsletter–Waterloo Region's weekly events newsletter. He's worked with some of Canada's most well known tech companies in roles including customer success, development, product management, PR, social media and marketing. Alex has contributed to publications including BetaKit, Grand Magazine and more.