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Thelma Pepper honoured with exhibition at Remai Modern Art Museum

The Thelma Pepper exhibition at Remai Modern in Saskatoon. Brady Ratzlaff/ Global News

Visitors to the Remai Modern Art Museum will notice a new exhibition called Thelma Pepper: Ordinary Woman. A Retrospective.

It features the work of local resident and photographer, Thelma Pepper, who passed away at the age of 100 in December.

Described as a brilliant photographer, Pepper was best known for her black-and-white snapshots of the people of the Prairies.

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Many of her pieces are of her family and the Sherbrooke Community Centre, where she photographed many of the residents.

“She was volunteering at a long-term care facility reading to the residence and through that experience,” said Sandra Fraser, collections curator at Remai Modern.  “Getting to know the residence and hearing their stories. She was so captivated.”

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Fraser says this was around the time she was re-igniting her interest in photography. Pepper eventually made audio recordings of the care home residents as well.

Fraser adds her work displayed a lot of warmth and curiosity.

 

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Thelma Pepper retrospective at the Remai Modern. Brady Ratlzaff/ Global News
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Thelma Pepper retrospective at the Remai Modern. Brady Ratzlaff/ Global News
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Thelma Pepper retrospective at the Remai Modern. Brady Ratzlaff/ Global News

Fraser says Pepper was born in Nova Scotia, she got a master’s degree in biology from McGill University, where she met her husband. They then moved to Saskatoon in 1947 where she would spend the majority of her adult life.

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The exhibition is the first-ever collaboration between USask Art Galleries and Collection and the Remai Modern.

“One thing that was really important, was the feminist lens and the approach to women that Thelma embodied had in her work,” said Fraser. “In this exhibition, we focused mainly on women as subjects. We put her in dialogue with five other female photographers.”

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Pepper was awarded a number of honours including the Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Award-Lifetime Achievement in 2014, and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2018.

Fraser adds it wasn’t until her 60s before she dived into an interest in photography.

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