"Shadow on the Prairie"
Deanna Bowen "Shadow on the Prairie" Multi-media
Inspired by a road trip to Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama in which she retraced her great grandparents’ slave roots and migration to Alberta, Ontario artist Deanna Bowen created two multimedia works about slavery-based trauma, family estrangement, community, and telling personal truths.
Gospel (2007-2008) is a song of loss and longing which combines photographs of found hymn books, a sculptural/audio work, and Hollywood movie footage into a semi- autobiographical exploration of a daughter’s rejection of mother, family, and home.
In Shadow on the Prairie (2009), “a dreamy, sumptuous and subtle seven minutes,” (Peter Goddard, Toronto Star) Deanna Bowen finds affinities between her own family story and that of the seminal 1952 Royal Winnipeg Ballet of the same name. The ballet evokes a young woman’s tragic struggle in the harsh conditions of pioneer life, with which Bowen intertwines an exploration of a family rumour about her great uncle, a closeted gay actor & nightclub singer who played in all-black revues of Vancouver’s supper club circuit in the 1930s – 1950s.
Deanna Bowen is a descendant of the Alabama and Kentucky-born Black Prairie pioneers of Amber Valley and Campsie, Alberta. She is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited internationally in numerous film festivals and galleries. Stories to pass on… is touring Canada through a collaboration with the Thames Art Gallery, Chatham, Ontario, and is accompanied by a publication.