Sarah Stanners

Title text


Sarah StannersAs an independent art historian, Dr. Sarah Stanners is currently directing and authoring the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné of paintings by Canadian artist Jack Bush (1909–1977). Dr. Stanners is also co-curating a major Jack Bush retrospective exhibition with Marc Mayer for the National Gallery of Canada (scheduled for 14 November 2014–22 February 2015). She holds a status-only appointment at the University of Toronto’s Department of Art, which is the same department where she earned her PhD in 2009. Most rewarding is Dr. Stanners’ role as mom to two lovely little girls, Josephine and Clio.


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Hart House 2003–2006
  • Member of the Art Committee
  • Assistant Curator of the Hart House Permanent Collection (2003–2005)
  • Chair of the Acquisitions Subcommittee and Exhibitions Subcommittee
  • Secretary of the Art Committee (2006)
  • Member of the Board of Stewards


“In 2004, I curated a show with the Art Committee called Representing Abstraction. I worked hard but enjoyed every single minute of putting it all together. It planted the seeds for my continued scholarship in abstract art in Canada. Hart House also afforded me my first experience in curating a living artist’s work—Stephen Andrews. That exhibition, which was open during Toronto’s first Nuit Blanche in 2006, proved to be a wonderful experience. We received a great amount of positive feedback from the public. I felt in touch with the community and was able to educate the public about issues such as the AIDS epidemic, the Iraq War, and how social activism can be achieved through contemporary art.


“While heading the Acquisitions Subcommittee, we purchased a large painting by the Canadian artist Eliza Griffiths for the Hart House Permanent Collection of Art. Although there are a number of paintings in the collection that depict female nudity, this painting by Griffiths was the first in the collection that showed full-frontal male nudity. Besides the fact that Griffiths was an up-and-coming young artist, and that the canvas glowed with lovely ice cream–like colours, our purchase was purposeful—we felt it would contribute a balance to the collection, and we knew that it might be controversial. Our hope was to display the work in a room open to the public at Hart House, but it was at first relegated to a private room. We had made some people uncomfortable with the sight of this work and its male sexuality, so we considered that a success!


“I grew up without much money or privilege. Hart House allowed me to live with fine art as I never had before. Being entrusted with such an important collection boosted my confidence. Having hands on experience with many masterworks of Canadian art convinced me that I wanted to focus on Canadian art history. I now strive to make everyone feel at home with Canadian art.


“I am currently working independently as the director and author of the Jack Bush Catalogue Raisonné, which has me cataloging every painting ever produced by the artist over his fifty-year-long career. This project piqued the interest of the National Gallery of Canada and I am now co-curating a major Jack Bush retrospective exhibition with the museum’s Director, Marc Mayer (scheduled to run from November 14, 2014 through February 22, 2015). Jack Bush is represented in the Hart House Permanent Collection of art and it was his painting Spread Out (1969–70) that I chose to feature on the invitation for my first major exhibition at Hart House: Representing Abstraction. I feel like I’ve come full circle, and now I’m going beyond, with many thanks to my extraordinary time at Hart House.”


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