The Collection

The Gallery’s collection contains about 4000 works of art including paintings, photographs, prints, sculpture and multi-media work by established Canadian and International Artists.

The collection began with an initial group of approximately 300 predominantly European paintings, prints and drawings acquired in 1885 as a teaching collection for art students to study and copy.

A few significant gifts were made to the Owens’ collection in the 1940s but it wasn’t until the late 1960s when art classes were moved from the Gallery to an adjacent building that the focus shifted towards actively developing the Gallery’s collection.

While the entire collection is not on permanent view, works from the collection are often on view in exhibitions. Check our current and upcoming exhibitions calendar to learn more.

Collection Highlights

Elizabeth Cann

Mother and Child, c. 1945
oil on canvas
Collection of the Owens Art Gallery
Purchased with funds from the Blanche Peppard Art Acquisitions Fund

Yarmouth artist Elizabeth Cann (1901–1976) is best known for her portraits of women who often seem isolated.

Cann’s portraits often depict pensive, wartime and depression-era women sitting alone, seemingly caught in numbing domestic routine, or detached from oppressive social expectations. These portraits can be read as self-reflections, which show Cann’s engagement with the world and simultaneous detachment from it.

To learn more about Elizabeth Cann’s life and work, explore Gemey Kelly’s paper Elizabeth Cann’s Representations of Women in Everyday Life.

Melissa Peter-Paul

Shining Star for Children, 2021
Collection of the Owens Art Gallery
Purchased with funds from the Blanche Peppard Art Acquisitions Fund

From Abegweit First Nation, located on Epekwitk (PEI), Melissa’s vibrant Mi’kmaw quillworks go beyond traditional utilitarian structures to explore conceptual artistic expression and complex geometric studies.

Growing up, Melissa was immersed in cultural teachings and was surrounded by a family of basket makers. She began her artistic expression at a young age, making regalia and beadwork, and is skilled in both traditional and contemporary styles. Melissa’s exposure to other Mi’kmaq artforms led her to quillwork, a traditional skill which her maternal grandfather’s ancestors excelled at. In 2015 Melissa was accepted into an apprenticeship with Mi’kmaq Quill Art. She is a member of the ‘The Quill Sisters’ a group of skilled Mi’kmaq women from Epekwitk working together to revitalize the traditional artform of porcupine quill work. Melissa is honoured to be passing the art on to her two sons and the broader community.

Marjory (Rogers) Donaldson

Untitled, c.1948
oil on board

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Felix Orville Goodman (1927 – 2000) came to Sackville in 1946 initially to study business administration in the Commercial College, before beginning his studies at Mount Allison.

In 1951, Orville earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, becoming the first Black student to earn this degree at Mount Allison, and in all of Canada. After graduating, he returned to the United States and worked as an art and music therapist and recreation director at several institutions. He was musically gifted and often performed in theatrical productions in the area around his home.

This portrait of Orville was painted by his friend and fellow student in the Mount Allison Fine Arts program Marjory (Rogers) Donaldson, BFA 1951 while they were students. Classmates in the Fine Arts program would often pose for one another, as portraiture was a key focus of the program. This recent acquisition to the Owens Collection adds to ongoing research about the history of the program and the arts in New Brunswick more widely.

Thank you to Orville’s son, David White and Orville’s classmate, Lorna (Creelman) Nauss BFA 1951, for confirming the identity of the portrait.

Learn more about Orville by visiting the exhibition in the entrance of the R.P. Bell Library and read more on the Mount Allison Libraries and Archives blog.

Buluma Ochungo Mordecai

Self-Portrait, 1962,
oil on canvas
Mount Allison Collection of Fine Arts Graduate Self-Portraits (c. 1940-1965)

In 2021 Nantume Violet set off to meet Buluma Ochungo Mordecai in Busia, after nine months of intense research to connect with the artist.

When they met, the eighty-seven-year-old artist actively reflected on the specific events that inspired many of his artworks, sharing memories of his travels, jobs, and time studying at Mount Allison University.

Read the essay by Nantume Violet

The Owens commissioned Nantume Violet, curator and director at the contemporary art gallery UNDER GROUND in Kampala, Uganda, to write an essay on Buluma’s life and career. This essay is part of a new online publishing initiative focused on sharing such histories. It was made possible thanks to the ongoing historical research and alumni engagement of Jane Tisdale, Fine Arts Conservator.

From the vault