Art Thou the Accuser of Thy Brethren or Art Thou the Inspiration of Their Heart:
Richard Boulet

June 21 – August 24, 2024

Boulet Mother's Wild Garden, 2018
Art Thou the Accuser of Thy Brethren or Art Thou the Inspiration of Their Heart casts a spotlight on the extraordinary studio practice of Edmonton-based artist Richard Boulet and introduces selected collaborations with Marilyn Olson, Boulet’s immediate family members and anonymous craft makers. Boulet’s visually arresting fine craft textile works feature a characteristic mix of figurative and abstract elements including text in various forms from traditional cross-stitching to assemblage techniques and filaments of colour embedded in quilting. The 35 works in the exhibition are also a testament to Boulet’s ability to acknowledge his lived experience with mental challenges. His experience is one that is sustained and has led him to pay close attention to building a base of knowledge that remains open to addressing a wide range of issues associated with social justice, well being, the omnipresence of poetic inspiration, and the need for psychic and physical space to accommodate an emerging queer identity. The characteristic markers of his investigation are complex and generally identified with autobiographical sources and the formal consequences of an evolving definition and making of art.
Our present moment of public acceptance and sharing of mental challenges and paths to wellness stories is unprecedented. Richard Boulet’s timely exhibition and the accompanying publication offer new perspectives on intersectional mental illness/health aesthetics. Boulet introduces fine craft textile art as part of an inclusive wellness program for community building. In addition, he extends the discourse around fine craft materiality via his exploration of more diverse elements including medical terminology (as either oblique/direct references to his lived experience with mental challenges), design strategies, performative sound and concrete poetry.
Boulet’s journey is one of ground-breaking acceptance in mainstream visual art amidst enormous mental health challenges and societal prejudice around mental illness.
Curated by Wayne Baerwaldt
Richard Boulet has two undergraduate degrees completed back-to-back from the University of Manitoba. The first is a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Architecture followed by a BFA. Richard later received his MFA in Drawing and Intermedia at the University of Alberta and for a limited period of time he found a home for participatory programming, volunteering and gainful employment at the CMHA–Edmonton.
“Art to me is experimenting with how far my imagination can take me. I find that the process relaxes me and seeing my imagination come to life under my fingers amazes me. Creating is self-fulfilling. When I see something transformed to become a piece of art, I feel astonished that I made it. Art gives me the initiative to pass on my knowledge for future generations.” – Richard Boulet
Wayne Baerwaldt is an independent visual arts curator and producer based in western Canada. His best-known curatorial projects trace performative elements in artmaking with an emphasis on unstable, disputed identities and the language of their construction and presentation in public and private spaces. Recent projects and publications include If I May Digress: Richard Boulet and Collaborators and Meeting for Teas: On the Road to Decolonization. He is the guest editor for Issue #62 of PUBLIC, The Gender-Diverse Lens, and conducts ongoing research in social justice issues and questions of representation as a Michele Sereda Artist in Residence for Socially Engaged Practice at the University of Regina. He is a board member of the Hnatyshyn Foundation, Ottawa and on the Advisory Committee of Participant, inc., in New York City.