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Hommage à Mère-Marie-Anne

Artist:

Marie Hélène Allain

Inauguration Date:

November 2, 1986

Location:

This artwork is located at 125 King Street, in front of the motherhouse of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Congregation (Religieuses de Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Cœur).

Description of Artwork:

Hommage à Mère-Marie-Anne is an abstract sculpture made from limestone. It is largely vertical and curves slightly. It is conceptual in theme and non-objective. It was created in 1984 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Congregation’s founding as a tribute to its founder, Mother Marie-Anne, and to her 52 sister companions.

Symbolism:

In 1924, Mother Marie-Anne (Suzanne Cyr), aged 73, founded the community known as the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, along with 52 Acadian sister companions from the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Saint John, New Brunswick. The community’s apostolic mission specifically seeks to promote Acadian culture and religious practices.

Allain’s own words regarding the symbolism of her work are as follows:

“Going beyond mere physical resemblance, I wanted the work to symbolize not only the woman and her work, but also the idea of homage being rendered.

A number of preliminary designs were completed before the final choice was made. In addition to meeting the primary criteria, the chosen form was best suited to the building’s façade.

While walking around the work, the viewer may notice certain aspects that are reminiscent of the human body and that also provide a sense of momentum while underscoring the idea of homage deriving from the work’s rising curved lines.

As a raw material that solidifies over time, limestone is the ideal medium with which to reflect the successful completion of Mother Marie-Anne’s new work and to render homage to her.”

A Word on Artist Marie Hélène Allain

Marie Hélène Allain was born and lives in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent, in Southeastern New Brunswick. She has always been driven by two passions: teaching, sharing her knowledge with others; and expressing her creativity through visual arts, more specifically, sculpture.

After obtaining her teacher’s licence from the New Brunswick Department of Education in 1959, she taught the basic subjects in elementary schools of the province. At the same time, she studied fine arts at the Collège Notre-Dame d’Acadie in Moncton, and at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and received her bachelor of art’s degree from the Université de Moncton in 1966. She pursued her art training and obtained a bachelor of fine arts degree, with a major in sculpture at the Université du Québec à Montréal in 1971.

Returning to New Brunswick she taught artistic expression in public elementary schools of the province from 1971 to 1974. She was then part-time professor of art education and sculpture at the Université de Moncton from 1974 to 1979. While teaching she continued to dedicate much of her time to sculpture.

In 1978, Marie Hélène Allain spent eight months in Europe, including six months of professional development in Pietrasanta, Italy. This experience was a milestone in her career as starting from 1979 she fully devoted herself to her art, while teaching occasional classes of sculpture at the Université de Moncton and the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Since then Marie Hélène Allain has created an imposing production of works, which has been the subject of approximately thirty solo exhibitions and of numerous group exhibitions across Canada and in Europe. Her sculptures, where stone is dominant, are among many public collections in Canada and France and adorn several public spaces in New Brunswick. Her rich and prolific works brought many honours to the artist, including the prestigious Strathbutler Award in 1996 given by the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation for excellence in visual arts or fine crafts in New Brunswick.

Two important works have been dedicated to the artist:

- The book Marie Hélène Allain, la symbolique de la pierre [The Symbolism of Stone] written by Carolle Gagnon in 1994 is an important publication on the artist and her works.
- The documentary film by Marie Hélène Allain en dialogue avec la pierre [A Dialogue with Stone] by Rodolphe Caron is a co-production by the National Film Board of Canada and Productions Appalaches, and was produced in 2008.

Hommage à Mère-Marie-Anne