Creativity, purpose, impact: How McCord Museum showcases the power of art for cultural meaning

In our second photo essay from this outstanding museum in Montreal, we showcase more artworks and the connection between creativity and purpose.

Creativity, purpose, impact: How McCord Museum showcases the power of art for cultural meaning

Sunday July 16, 2023,

3 min Read

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 710 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery, world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

For over a century, Montreal’s McCord Museum has showcased the city’s evolution through curated art exhibitions and its active communities. Four current exhibitions are testimony to its creative blend of art, education, technology, and design (see Part I of our coverage here, and our earlier photo essays from 2022, 2019, 2018).

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Photographer and film director Joannie Lafrenière chronicles Montreal’s Hochelaga neighbourhood where she lived for 18 years. The exhibition features people who have crossed her path and represent the heart of Hochelaga.

“My intention is to highlight their beauty and colour, without masking the harshness of the experience imprinted in their features, bodies and hearts, to highlight both what is left of this working-class neighbourhood and what is being transformed as it is gentrified,” Joannie explains.

Multidisciplinary artist Karen Tam presents the exhibition Swallowing Mountains. The name of the exhibition is derived from the impacts of the gold rush in Canada, which fuelled immigration and the resultant separation of Chinese immigrant families.

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The artist-curator has participated in residencies in North America, Europe and China. Karen is also a contributor to the publication, Asia Collections outside Asia: Questioning Artefacts, Cultures and Identities in the Museum.

Artist-photographer James Duncan documented Montreal’s development from 1830 to 1880. Titled Becoming Montreal: The 1800s Painted by James Duncan, his exhibited collection captures the city’s street life and changing seasons.

Digital art studio Iregular fed the artist’s works into an artificial intelligence programme. Generative AI was used to create digital perspectives that showcase the city in a new light.

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The permanent exhibition of the museum is titled Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience. It captures the beauty of Indigenous cultures, the deep wounds they carry from their clash with the West, and their resilience.

The exhibition showcases 11 Indigenous nations in Quebec and educates museum visitors on their knowledge and philosophies.

Curator Elisabeth Kaine drew on consultations with 800 people from the Indigenous nations, conducted between 2010 and 2018. She was the Co-holder of the UNESCO Chair titled The Transmission of First Peoples’ Culture to Foster Well-Being and Empowerment.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and connect your creativity to your purpose?


(All photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the museum.)

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

Edited by Suman Singh