Mary Louise Chown – Focus on Local Artists – Issue #9
For January, Winnipeg River Arts Council features member Mary Louise Chown, a visual artist, storyteller, and musician who recently moved with her husband to a farm just outside River Hills. Delighted to discover a large arts community in the North Eastman area, she has already participated in a successful storytelling concert held in Pinawa last November and sponsored by WRAC.
Although born in Toronto, Chown considers herself a prairie chicken, having lived most of her life in Winnipeg. She heard many stories in her own extended family, and is most familiar with the folktales of the British Isles and Northern Europe. Chown also plays hammered dulcimer, guitar and percussion with “The Fine Companions” folk music band. She often includes music and song in her stories, inviting audiences of all ages to participate.
Chown has performed at storytelling festivals in Toronto, Ottawa, Whitehorse, Edmonton, Vancouver, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and the Winnipeg International Children’s Festivals. She also has worked with the Manitoba Arts Council as a visiting artist in schools across Manitoba. Her week-long residencies paired storytelling with art making for students of all ages. She designed a storytelling and music concert series called “The Magic of One”, which had a successful six year run in Winnipeg.
Her video installation ”The Skin of This Planet” was recently exhibited at the University of Winnipeg Art Gallery and at St. Boniface Hospital and won an award from ArtWorks in Edmonton, Alberta. Her paintings and prints have been exhibited at group and juried shows in
Winnipeg, Ottawa, the Internet, and Barcelona, Spain.
Gathering people together to share their stories is an important part of her work and has taken her into group homes for young offenders, adult survivor groups, classes for seniors and more recently, as a visiting artist in Winnipeg hospitals, telling stories, listening to stories and playing music. She has been invited to talk about this work so often that she finally wrote and published her first book about her experiences in healthcare. The book, titled NOW I KNOW THE WORLD IS ROUND: Stories At the End of Life, has gone into second printing, and is available at McNally Robinson Booksellers, or from Chown directly.