In honour of International Women's Day 2024, SK Arts partnered with Minister Laura Ross and the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport to exhibit a fitting and enthralling series of artwork by Saskatchewan women in an exhibit called 40+ Years in the MakingWomen and Clay at the Cumberland Art Gallery in Regina. The exhibit was inspired by Deborah Potter’s sculpture, 40+ Years in the Making: Women and Clay, which was also installed at the Mosaic Tower Hill Centre III by the City of Regina last fall.

Potter’s sculpture showcases 12 other artists as figures—created in the likeness of their ceramic art and themes. To showcase the extraordinary talent of women in the arts, the exhibit features ceramic works from each of the women in Potter’s sculpture, the majority of whom are represented in SK Arts’ Permanent Collection.

The artists included in the 40+ Years in the Making: Women and Clay sculpture and exhibition are Karen Dahl, Maria Gakovic, Beth Hone, Ann James, Margaret Keelan, Marilyn Levine, Sandra M. Ledingham, Jeannie Mah, Lorraine Malach, Anne McLellan, Wendy Parsons, Deborah Potter and Anita Rocamora.

Potter created the 12-piece artwork in 2021 and submitted it to the Saskatchewan Craft Council, where it was juried into the Dimensions exhibition, won the Corinne McKay Merit Award, and toured Canada with the 2021 exhibition tour. In 2022, it was submitted to SK Arts for purchase and enthusiastically accepted for purchase by the assessment committee.

SK Arts Permenent Collection Piece, Art Rental Saskatchewan: Deborah Potter sculpture: 40+ Years in the Making. Product picture of 12 piece  scilpture of miniature women ceramicists in Saskatchewan. the picture has a gret background. The scuplture features Karen Dahl, Maria Gakovic, Beth Hone, Ann James, Margaret Keelan, Marilyn Levine, Sandra M. Ledingham, Jeannie Mah, Lorraine Malach, Anne McLellan, Wendy Parsons, Deborah Potter, and Anita Rocamora.

40+ Years in the Making - Women and Clay, Deborah Potter, 2021. Photo credit: Kevin Hogarth for the Saskatchewan Crafts Council

On March 8, 2024, a formal reception was held at the Qu’Appelle Gallery at the Legislative Building to commemorate International Women’s Day and the opening of the exhibition.

"We are thrilled to bring '40+ Years in the Making - Women and Clay' to the legislature, to help celebrate Saskatchewan women and the impact they have had on the arts in our province," Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Ross said. "Clay is a medium we know well on the prairies, and these women artists have shaped it to reflect beauty and strength, characteristics that describe Saskatchewan women and our entire province, quite well."

Minister Ross also spoke about SK Art’s critical role in the preservation of the province’s artistic history.

Belinda Harrow, Program Consultant for SK Arts’ Permanent Collection spoke about Potter’s piece and the work of the women depicted in it.

“I am struck by the diversity of their methods and forms and the breadth of creativity. These women worked in our community, at times sharing studio space, attending classes, and often exhibiting together,” said Harrow. “Deborah’s sculpture exemplifies this spirit of women supporting and appreciating the work and creativity of other women in the arts.”

While the 40+ Years in the MakingWomen and Clay installation focuses on ceramicists, Saskatchewan’s art history is rich with the vibrancy and diversity of women working in all art forms. Here are 10 interesting facts you may not have know about SK Arts’ Permanent Collection.


10 Interesting Facts About SK Art’s Permanent Collection and Women

Fact One: 1951 was the second year that art was acquired by SK Arts for the Permanent Collection. Three paintings were purchased that year and two were by women. Therefore, of the first five paintings in the Collection, two were by women: The Knitter, Frances Faminow (1950) and Tangle, Reta Summers Cowley (1951). 

Fact Two: The first sculpture purchased for the SK Arts’ Permanent Collection in 1952 was by a woman and it is Catherine Kortes’ Reflection. Reflection was purchased from the Third Annual Saskatchewan Art Exhibition, sponsored by the Saskatchewan Arts Board (SK Arts). Sixty-six per cent (66%) of the artists in that exhibition–a very high percentage for that period–were women.

Fact Three: Razie Brownstone–a visual artist, actor, props builder, costume designer and producer–is one of the oldest living artists represented in SK Arts’ Permanent Collection and, at 98, is active still in theatre and film.

Fact Four: The Get in in Writing lithograph print by Bev Lambert is one of three in SK Arts’ Permanent Collection that was made for the International Year of Women in 1975. Those three works depict issues, events and stories reported in news at the time.

Fact Five: Two recent donations to the Permanent Collection addresses gender issues. One is Annemarie Buchmann-Gerber’s Make Gender Discrimination History (2013-14), which focuses on women’s rights. Buchmann-Gerber’s artwork often featured social themes such as worker's rights, women's rights, and environment concerns. The other is Iron Maid, Christa Donaldson (1986). Donaldson’s drawings, paintings and prints focused on the female experience and were influenced by her childhood experience of emigrating to Canada.

Fact Six: There are a few mothers and daughters represented in SK Arts’ Permanent Collection. There are works of Dorothy Knowles and her daughters Catherine and Rebecca Perehudoff. Jaime Favel and her daughter Cherelle Williams are also represented in the Collection. Born in 2003 and a member of Whitebear First Nation, Cherelle Williams is one of the youngest artists represented in the Permanent Collection.

Fact Seven: The Permanent Collection has a strong representation of Anne Newdigate's work—including the preparatory painting for a tapestry, Then there was Mrs. Rorschach’s Dream/You are What You See (1988)Lynn Bell has explained that Newdigate used the figure of Mrs. Rorschach, a practicing psychologist, to highlight how women and tapestry have been hidden from history.

Fact Eight: The Permanent Collection is home to more than just paintings and sculptures. For example, it includes a video installation by Dana Claxton, Sitting Bull and the Moose Jaw Sioux, purchased in 2005.

Fact Nine: Audie Murray’s Pair of Socks: Fur & Cigarettes, 2021 was beaded on worn socks, but the Collection includes other beadwork as well. The first beaded artwork acquired for SK Arts’ Permanent Collection was Moccasin, Maggie Settee (1961), acquired in 1967.

Fact Ten: Deborah Potter’s sculpture, 40+ Years in the Making: Women and Clay (2021) pays tribute to 12 Saskatchewan ceramicists with their likeness in miniature forms mirroring their ceramic style and themes.