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Learn more about local artist Russell Yuristy

September 17, 2020

Russell Yuristy, produced by the Ottawa Art Gallery, 2020, 6 min 27 sec, producer: Taline Jirian; filmographer: Chris Snow
Photo : Chris Snow

Watch this short documentary (6:27) to learn more about local artist Russell Yuristy, whose work is featured in the exhibition Russell Yuristy: The Inside of Elephants and All Kinds of Things, currently on view at the OAG.


From a refurbished church-turned-studio in the 1970s, Yuristy embraced the subconscious, absurd and everyday experiences in a series of fantastical drawings and ceramics. Through these creations, Yuristy contributed to the development of Regina Funk Art, a pop art movement in which artists used humour and mixed materials to create anti-consumer commentary. During this time, he also founded the “Creative Playground Workshop,” through which he created public commissions: large wooden animal sculptures that doubled as play structures for children. These animal sculptures foreshadowed his move into wildlife-based drawings, prints and paintings in later years, following his relocation to Ottawa in 1985. Drawing on a practical respect for nature’s cycles of life-and-death as experienced on the farm, his works position his creatures as mirrors for the frailty and absurdity of the human experience.


Russell Yuristy was born in Goodeve, Saskatchewan in 1936. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan, (Saskatoon) (1959) and earned a Masters of Science (Art) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1967). He joined the Visual Arts Faculty of the University of Saskatchewan (Regina) that year where he taught until 1971 and coordinated three Emma Lake Artists’ Workshops. He has been awarded grants from the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Canada Council for the Arts. He was the subject of a feature article in Artscanada (now Canadian Art) magazine in 1972 and a National Film Board documentary in 1978. His works have been included in solo and group exhibitions throughout his career, including Canada Trajectoires ’73 (Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris), Regina Clay: Worlds in the Making (Mackenzie Art Gallery, 2006), and Russell Yuristy: … a kind of abandon (Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery, 2010). He has received numerous major public commissions including from Expo Canada, the City of Ottawa and the CBC. His works can be found in public and private collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Canada Council Art Bank, Remai Modern (formerly the Mendel Art Gallery), Ottawa Art Gallery, Carleton University Art Gallery, Mackenzie Art Gallery, McDonald Corporation (Chicago) and Shaklee Corporation (San Francisco). He has taught printmaking at the Ottawa School of Art, and continues to live and practise in Ottawa.


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