The title of this exhibition re-interprets--and perhaps updates--part of a famous quote from English Restoration-era poet and critic John Dryden (1631-1700):

By viewing Nature, Nature’s handmaid, art, makes mighty things from small beginnings grow.

The natural world has been constantly envisioned by artists around the world. This has been especially true in the case of Canadian art, where the landscape has been used to assert the very identity of the country and its inhabitants. While the wilderness imagery of generations of Canadian painters is known to many, over the last half century a significant number of contemporary artists have also conceptualized nature, though in different ways, and to address a variety of aesthetic and social concerns.

Selected works bypass traditional representations of the landscape to combine aspects of the natural and man-made in engaging ways. Different materials, process, and content exemplify the back-and-forth exchange between nature and nurture. Works by Joyce Wieland, Ed Pien, Paul Walde, Spring Hurlbut and several others combine individual handiwork with elements of mass production. Found objects, even materials deemed to be detritus, resemble or mix with organic materials which "speak for themselves," or make ironic statements about artificiality and industry.