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Item Name: Painting
Title: The Prairie
Maker: Ruth Pawson
Year: 1951
Country: Canadian
Materials: Oil on canvas board
Measurements: overall: 50.7 cm x 60.6 cm
ID Number: PC93.1

Extended Label Info: Pawson is known for her evocative landscapes. She was inspired by the rolling prairie and theatrical skies of Southern Saskatchewan, and often spoke of the rhythm of the wind that she felt on the prairies. Her expressive brushstrokes build this rhythm into her compositions, charging them with a strong sense of vitality. This image shows a small farmstead and a wheat field in the fall. Before farmers had access to fully automatic combine harvesters, they would need to cut the tall stalks of wheat and tie it into bundles known as sheaves, and then stack it by hand into piles known as stooks, until it could be picked up for threshing. Pawson’s subject matter, the cultivated landscape, suggests that although she was influenced by the expressive styles popular at the time, her philosophical approach to painting was more akin to social realism with a focus on ordinary and honest portrayals of life. Ruth May Pawson (1908-1994) was born in Stratford, Ontario and moved to Regina in 1912. Pawson earned a teacher's certificate from the Regina Normal School in 1927 and taught for ten years before she was able to afford art classes. She attended the Regina College of Art where she studied with Augustus Kenderdine and Gordon Snelgrove, earning an Associate of Fine Arts degree (1940). Pawson later attended the Emma Lake Summer School, and several summer sessions at the Banff School of Fine Arts taught by A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven. She became a teacher in elementary schools and at the Regina College of Art. In 1976, the Regina Public School Board named an elementary school in her honor. For her contribution to Saskatchewan art and art education, Pawson received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 1993. Her work is held in numerous private and public collections such as the National Gallery of Canada, Banff School of Fine Arts, and the Saskatchewan Arts Board.