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Ray Cronin (CA)

Maud Lewis: Creating an icon

Maud Lewis: Creating an icon

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More than any other Canadian artist, Nova Scotian folk artist Maud Lewis (1901–70) is defined as much by her life as by her art. While her story was one of poverty, hardship, physical disability, and chronic pain, it was also one of triumph of character and creativity over circumstance. Catering primarily to the tourists who drove past her tiny house each summer, Lewis’s bright, primitive paintings of oxen, cats, boats, and rural scenes were both a response and an invitation to nostalgia. In this essay, Ray Cronin explores how Lewis’s style and imagery became iconic, synonymous both with the way Nova Scotians’s viewed themselves and the way the province would promote itself to the world.

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Ray Cronin is a writer and curator living in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In 2023 he was named the Curator of Canadian Art at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. From 2001 to 2015 he worked at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia as Curator and as Director and CEO. He is the founding curator of the Sobey Art Award and the author of thirteen books on Canadian art, including Our Maud: The Life, Art and Legacy of Maud Lewis and .

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