The Gerhard Ens Gallery has a new exhibit. 160 Acres: The Geography of Home; a Prairie Farm and Community is created by Darlene Derksen. Jessica McKague, our Assistant Curator provides an overview of this interesting new exhibit this week.
“Ten years in the making, the exhibition 160 Acres: The Geography of Home includes a wide variety of both art and artifacts quite unlike other exhibits. Combining artifacts, cartography, and floor plans with quilts, paintings, and sketches, Derksen has created a dynamic and unique interpretation of Mennonite life and culture, through the lens of an individual’s experience in the 1960s and early 70s.
“The farm house and quarter section (160 acres) Derksen grew up in was established by her grandparents in 1918 and inherited by her parents in 1953. Her first language was Low German, but she learned English, via television, before attending the one room school of Kronsweide, where Low German was not permitted. Her whole world was an area of about 2 square miles, which included her farm, Sommerfeld Mennonite church, and Kronsweide school. The nearest town was Lowe Farm, about 5 miles away. In Lowe Farm, her father was able to conduct nearly all of his farming business in Low German.
“Derksen grew up on the edge of change when “farming as a way of life” was becoming a business. Her parents operated a mixed farm with a huge vegetable garden, poultry, hogs, a calf each year for slaughter and a cow and laying hens. They loved working and living on a farm but it was time to retire in 1973. Deflated land prices in the early 1970s brought the attention of urban and foreign investors. The farm was sold in 1974 and Derksen’s relationship to the community came to an end. “160 Acres: The Geography of Home” is a tribute to a way of life that has disappeared from the prairies.
Darlene Derksen“Darlene Derksen first became serious about drawing and painting when she attended the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design in 1988. Her works have appeared in various juried exhibits, the University of Winnipeg’s Journal of Mennonite Studies as the cover art, as well as inside art in Rhubarb Magazine (The Food Issue, Summer 2010). Her patrons of lake and prairie landscapes span the countries of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, China, and Kenya.
“Derksen continues to work as an interior designer specializing in developing residential spaces to meet the unique character and needs of her clients.
“The opening Reception for “160 Acres: The Geography of Home” will be held Sunday April 14, from 2:00 – 4:30 pm at the Mennonite Heritage Village. Visitors can view the work and talk with the artist. Free admission and refreshments will be provided.”