Prairie Invasions: A Lullaby is a solo exhibition of photographs and sculptures culminating from Emily Neufeld’s exploration of abandoned farmhouses dotting the Canadian Prairies. Searching through remnants of the selected sites, she probes for traces of the lives and histories of those who have resided there. Neufeld’s actions underpin her desire to understand the powers and influences shaping a place and the incremental changes that occur over time.
Neufeld travelled to a dozen farmhouses over the summer of 2018 as part of her research for Prairie Invasions: A Lullaby. These are a few of many deserted homes punctuating the Canadian prairies, built by settler migrant farmers who came in waves during the 1800s and which form part of the complex history of colonization in Canada. As the decades passed, many of the family farms became conglomerates of larger holdings, or farmers retired and farmhouses were left behind.
Born and raised in Alberta, Neufeld’s engagement with the Canadian Prairies is genuine. Neufeld’s great-grandparents, Mennonites, arrived in Manitoba in 1874 from Russia. The Prairies came to be the home of over 21,000 Mennonites who arrived between 1923 and 1930 aided by the Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Through her visits to these abandoned farms, Neufeld wrests with the tensions of a colonial reality in her roles as Settler, granddaughter and artist.
Curator: Nan Capogna
Emily Neufeld was born in Alberta, on Treaty 6 and 7 lands, and now lives and works on the unceded territory of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam in North Vancouver. Her practice investigates place, and how humans change and are changed by the surrounding environment, and the layers of memory and psychic history that accumulate in a material world. In addition to collaborative projects with other artists, recent solo exhibitions include Before Demolition (2017: Burrard Arts Foundation), and Picture Window (2016: Vancouver Heritage Foundation), a large-scale billboard on the CBC Wall in downtown Vancouver. Neufeld has created and participates in community sharing gardens, and sees land as fundamental to her research process. She received her BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2013.