Laura Vickerson

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Ewart Duggan House, Medicine Hat, AB

Constructed Histories

My month-long residency at the Ewart Duggan House has culminated in this exhibition titled Constructed Histories.  My interest was to combine research done in the Medicine Hat Museum Archive with historical and contemporary objects to create a new, imagined history.

There is an interesting parallel between this site and my project.  One hundred years ago the Duggan House would have been one of only a few family homes in small prairie community.  Now the house is located in the middle of downtown Medicine Hat dwarfed by surrounding city and commercial buildings.  This beautiful historical house now serves as a residency for artist, writers, educators and heritage professionals.  There is a need to accommodate contemporary living within the home while still maintaining its historical identity.  It has become a “constructed history”: where one era has been layered on top of another and yet another.  It is a hybrid history, which acknowledges the past but welcomes the present.  Like memory:  every time a memory is recalled it changes.  It has been altered by new contexts and experiences.  My collection of old and new objects, contemporary art and my own artwork serve as the material for this exhibition.  The site of the Ewart Duggan House and the documents from the Medicine Hat Museum Archive provide the context.  Throughout the residence, you will find different topics that were of interest to explore.  At times I am simply a curator of objects.  
In taking on this role, I am very cognizant of writer Steven Johnson’s term “the adjacent present”.  This is when one object is placed next to another and we have an inherent need to make a connection between them.  It is here where new and surprising discoveries are made, and history continues to be written.