During the Twenties, Emily Carr was an artist and writer and is considered to be a significant contributor to inspiring the lives of many other artists in North America. She should be remembered by future generations due to having a difficult childhood and being losing her parents at a young age she still managed to persevere and become one of the most significant BC artists of her generation.
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Emily Carr was born on December 13th, 1871 in Victoria, British Columbia to British parents. Emily was the eighth of nine children. At a young age, Emily’s parents died to leave her very strict older sister to take care of them. They were raised in a very disciplined and orderly home. Emily began drawing lessons at the age of eight and fell in love with it immediately. She got permission from her financial guardian to go to an art school in San Francisco where she stayed and attended the California School of design for about 3 years and then headed off to study in London for another five years. After getting her education she had a small job as a teacher and taught kids how to draw and also lead the Ladies Art Club classes for a while before going to France and studying more under Harry Gibb and Douglas Ferguson.
When Emily returned from France, her art was not well received in Canada. She was forced to find means other than painting to receive income. During the years 1914-1926, Emily worked as a landlady, sold hens, rabbits, fruit, and pottery, and bred English bobtail sheepdogs. Emily had a fascination with first nations art in British Columbia. She later went on to meet Lawren Harris who was part of the Group of Seven and they began a lifelong friendship. Lawren was a big influence on Emily as he saw her potential and always encouraged her to do what she loved throughout her career. Emily was never part of the group of seven but she did join the Canadian Group of Painters. After the ending of the group of seven Emily’s work started to get more recognition, and at the age of 67, she had her first solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art gallery in 1938. Emily writing career began a lot later in life, she first began writing at the age of 70. She started writing as a way of passing time when she was in the hospital after having her second heart attack. The first 2 books she published was an instant success, while the first one went on to receive the Governor General’s Literary Award and the second was named Canadian Book of the Year in 1942.
During the 1920’s women, painters were rare, and many believed that painting for women was merely a hobby or a past time. People expected them to only create “pretty pictures” and paintings of things like flowers and other everyday simple items. At the time of her death, she was well known within the Canadian art community, yet the “fame” she experienced in her life is nothing compares to the admiration in which she has today. She is a popular tourist attraction in Vancouver and Victoria, part of the elementary school curriculum, a significant figure in the Canadian art historical canon and as a steady stream of exhibitions.
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Emily had a movie made about her art that was filmed in the 1990’s called “The Art of Emily Carr”, she also has many schools in Canada named after her, elementary school, secondary schools and even a University named for art after her in Vancouver called Emily Carr University of Art and design.
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